While it's one of the enduring tenets in the CRM market, that view of the customer is fundamentally flawed. Why is that? Having all the information at your fingertips about any given customer is of little value if you can't do anything with it to better serve the customer at the point of interaction, across all contact channels and organization silos.
According to industry research, only 10 percent of companies are delivering outstanding customer experiences. Even in today's day and age, with all the sophisticated tools and technologies at our disposal, most companies have difficulty creating processes that connect people across disparate systems and converting customer data into useful information. They're not able to use the 360-degree view of the customer to determine the right actionable information in the right format for each customer interaction in the contact center.
The first wave of CRM software solutions concentrated on delivering a data-centric view of the customer. That is, pulling all of the information about the customer into a consolidated database to make it available to a customer support representative (CSR). For today's customer, whether B2B or B2C, it is not enough to know what products or services they have purchased in the past. They want you to meet their particular need at the moment of interaction such as when they contact you. Today's consumers want you to recognize them regardless of channel (email, phone, Web, branch, etc.). Today's customers need companies to not only address their problems, but also resolve them. Now, not later.
To do this successfully requires rethinking organizational structures and business processes so that the client-facing, front-office systems and the back-office systems become one. This makes it possible to create a case around a given customer inquiry or request, and then automatically fulfill it without a phone transfer, a trouble ticket routing, or other hand-off that stops short of immediately satisfying the customer's need. Companies continue to spend a significant amount of money on CRM solutions, and yet customer satisfaction scores aren't improving in many cases. Too often CRM reinforces silos rather than removing them. Yes, CRM is "customer-facing," but without the right back-end processes to support it, even the best CRM strategy won't work. For this reason, advanced business process management (BPM), complemented by predictive analytics and adaptive case management, is taking a greater role in CRM.
The idea of customer centricity has been around as a concept for a while. According to Wikipedia:
"Customer centricity refers to the orientation of a company to the needs and behaviors of its customers. Through this approach the customer becomes the central platform from which the organization operates and any decisions taken are viewed from the customer's point of view."
Peter Drucker, one of the foremost management consultants, had a more succinct expression about serving customers that implies customer centricity: "The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer." Personally, it has become imminently clear that making the customer the heart of the business process is essential. Only now, enabled by advanced BPM software solutions, can businesses achieve true customer centricity and finally move beyond the limitations of data-centric software solutions. For this reason, the divide between BPM and the capabilities of CRM are starting to converge very rapidly.
Some of the world's leading companies are already realizing significant returns by adopting a more customer-centric and holistic approach to their business, using BPM to drive customer centricity and deeper customer engagement. Standard Life achieved marketing response rates 35 percent ahead of target. Farmers Insurance reduced its new small commercial business cycle time from 14 days down to 14 minutes. BB&T created a world-class, multi-channel account opening solution in just 90 days. Orange UK improved retention, increased profitability, and is transforming the customer experience with centralized decisioning technology. They've done this by taking a hard look at business processes that traverse organizational silos, and bringing the back office closer to the front office while transforming strategic cross-functional processes.
The Web 2.0 world has prompted a relentless move from command and control organizational structures to more fluid, collaborative, and connected organizations that can better serve today's customer demands. The evolution from creating a 360-degree view of the customer to building a customer-centric organization is a trend well under way, and likely to accelerate as more companies discover that customer-centric software is enabling a better way to do business. Organizations such as those noted above, who are already adopting this technology, have moved several steps ahead of the pack.
Grant Johnson is chief marketing officer for Pegasystems and coauthor of the book, PowerBrandingTM.