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When should a company use BPM instead of CRM to improve customer service?

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In this question, What business process defects are the biggest threat to enterprises? several responded that the biggest threat are those processes that do allow the business to focus on the customer.  And as James Taylor brought up in this blog, when should a company use BPM instead of CRM to improve customer service?

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  • To be honest it takes two to tango so why shouldn't you use a combination (or harmony) of both ?

    I'm surprised that after 12 months of industry talk of convergence we're still treating them as separate bedfellows (and just highlights how far we still have to go to break free from conventional thinking). Look at the progress Salesforce made last year into the BPM space for example. Where's the 'social' element disappeared in all of this ?

    Both CRM and BPM focus on the Customer and how the enterprise treat them (both internal and external, shouldn't really be making distinctions but good to mention both) Both focus on the process. Both can be used for automation and improvement opportunities.

    12 months on, and still waiting for the industry to wake up.

  • Customer service is at its heart a process supported by an application.

    So you should use (BPM: process mapping) to establish what the process should feel like from a customer's perspective (especially now self-service is prevalent), and then you should use CRM or BPM (automation) to provide the support and you should deliver both the descritopn of the processes and the application to the custoimer service agents (who may be your staff or your customers).

    A recent blog called Your customers hate it, your staff hate it, but you make the do it anyway describes the issue in more detail.

    But a picture tells a thousand words from Just a Thought

  • There is no "instead of" if you look at them as capability and not as products! BPM takes care of Process aspects, CRM takes care of specific functions/domain. You need both.

  • I’m seeing more cases where business process management is being applied to improve customer service. Take this case study video for example. http://www.nimbuspartners.com/carphonewarehouse For Best Buy Europe / Carphone Warehouse the entire business case for their Operational Excellence program is improving Customer Service – the key measure being “Net Promoter Score?. How they do it – Capture standardized business processes in a language the whole business understands, then use performance metrics to focus Lean SixSigma techniques on the areas which will deliver the most benefit. Then drive adoption by all employees. It touches on CRM, but the main vehicle for improving outcomes is people understanding business processes. And apart from CRM this customer is applying the same techniques to all areas of the business – from supply chain, internal operations, HR etc.

  • If you want to deliver good Customer Services then you need both BPM and CRM, when we talk about the customer they should go hand in hand...

    In James blog he agrees, but wants focus on some form of decision management engine. I think this leads to poor customer services. If we use CRM, BPM and enforced decision making engines then the end user has no real power to make a difference to the customer, more so if the customer doesnt fit nicely into one of these pre-designed processes or decision making algorithm. Thats not good at all and leads to poor customer services...

    We need a blend of CRM with process and decision management for great customer services. Again this is an example why I like the APG (Adaptive Process Guidance) concept. APG gives that flexibility for process and decision management while empowering the end user, not putting them in some straight jacket....

  • The reality is, you HAVE to use both and you need a 3rd - User Process Management. Most Enterprises (Especially Call Centers) I see have many older legacy systems or 3rd party (Cloud or On-Premise) apps that do not easily (if at all) fit into a full BPM "model".

    CRM = Customer RelationShip Management (which can include 1, 3, 50 or 10 or more Desktop Applications). What good is BPM if it can only cover a fractions of these applications.

    However, the common overriding theme for BPM and CRM is that they virtually always involve a knowledge worker, call center agent or enterprise user running these applications from their desktop. So, with User Process Management, you can join any CRM application, with any part of the BPM process (including measuring and optimizing the manual user processes). To me, this is 360 degree BPM :)

  • Having both forms of technology is great, but it is not enough. With this pairing, you know about your customers and you know how to handle common business processes related to them.

    What you are lacking with BPM+CRM is the ability to react to common situations where a customer really needs the real service of a human with a brain, rather than call center 'self-service facilitated by trained monkey'. Real customer service takes professional development of employees as well as more flexible process technology that lets them handle escalations without a spaghetti process diagram getting in the way.

    My article in Talent Management from late last year talks about employee development alongside BPM, and assumes that any reasonably mature organization already has CRM in place:


  • When should you use BPM instead of CRM to improve customer service? Never! You should use both BPM and CRM together. Extending BPM to customer service introduces consistency that customer service decision-makers need to control the service experience from a cost and customer satisfaction perspective. BPM software does this by applying contextual business rules and process rules that govern the customer interaction. Coupling contextual knowledge to business process enables agents to deliver targeted, personalized service to customers.

    Real benefits of coupling BPM and CRM include:
    • Improving resolution process consistency – Agents are guided through issue resolution processes, ensuring a consistent service experience for a particular issue type.
    • Minimizing agent training time and turnover – Due to the fact that agents are guided through the discovery process instead of needing to learn and remember the sequence of steps to be taken to resolve an issue. They can focus on the customer better, instead of trying to remember what processes to follow
    • Elevating agent efficiency – Information and knowledge presented can be pushed to the agents at the right point in the resolution process This increases agent efficiency, and ultimately customer satisfaction.
    • Driving policy compliance - Required compliance steps can be built into the process flows that agents have no option other than to follow, minimizing noncompliance penalties.

    We see this trend being adopted by the CRM vendor community. CRM vendors are building into their applications a layer of process guidance as a result of market demand based on the quantifiable benefits of extending BPM to CRM.

    - Kate Leggett, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research, serving Business Process professionals

  • Improved customer service is about designing your business processes so that your customer's interactions with your organization are simpler and easier than those of your competitors, it isn't about CRM or BPM software.

  • On the risk of repeating myself I say that these boundaries of BPM. CRM, ECM etc. are completely willful and don't serve real business objectives.

    However, no application whatsoever will in itself improve anything. To improve customer services you need to provide agents, customer reps etc., i.e. those actually executing the interaction with customers plus customers themselves with transparent, complete, accurate, and timely information and communication; plus you need to empower those business users with the means to shape and adapt the process as such instead of sending them through additional loops or instances that just cannot resolve the case on hand.

  • Much of CRM is used to manage customer communication for after sales service, cross selling, and upselling. It involves analytics that are late to detect problems and work on model and data illusions.

    Call center applications already enforce communication scripts for brainless agents, who aren't skilled enough or aren't given the time to really interact with a customer.

    Then comes the idea to add BPM or replace CRM to enforce consistency, compliance and efficiency, NONE OF WHICH do anything to improve customer satisfaction, but only reduce cost or improve service statistics that do no reflect customer outcomes. That is neither customer oriented nor does it follow recent scientific understanding.

    Yes, I think that CRM and most call center apps should be dumped and replaced by a solution that empowers service reps across the enterprise along with the customer to interact purely focused on outcome. Processes do not guarantee outcomes, they just guarantee enforcement.

    That some change is lurking in the bushes we can see by the popularity of the SOCIAL concept, that however is not able in its current form to improve processes. It is only a minor improvement over emails, which most call centers don't handle well as-is. Real-time social communication is a true efficiency killer because it is work-disruptive.

    Which is why I focus on the ADAPTIVE paradigm to empower people to focus on outcomes, which neither current CRM nor BPM actually do!

  • It isnt just BPM that needs to be adaptive and evolve, CRM, and I would argue ECM, also need to become far more adaptive to the end users (and customers) needs....

    "Outcomes" as Max puts it, arent restricted to our nice IT silo approach. An outcome will no doubt require many more "silos" being used, and as such this leads to the drive for a more holistic approach to IT and vendor solutions....

  • user-pic

    I would look at this in different way, Which technology or may be combination helps in achieving the better Customer Experience or Service. CRM helps in achieving 360 degree view of Customer and BPM will help in managing services by adopting processes.

    By adopting on BPM the following are achieved:

    1.Process way of doing service
    2.Repeatable of the process which will give same experience
    3.Automation/Optimization of process so that human intervention can be eliminated
    4.Enabling the sytems to provide right information at right context to Agents, so that the decision can be made easy.

    I would recommend combination of both to get the benefits of CRM and BPM

    By Srinivas Jangam

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