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Attention, business process specialists: In Forrester Research's view, ensuring a great customer experience should be a big part of your current job description.

Too often, BPM pros view customer relationship management (CRM) as "too fluffy or squishy" for their methodical discipline, according to William Band, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst.

But process skills are increasingly important to companies hoping to take advantage of new business opportunities, Band said at a recent Forrester Business Process Forum in Boston. (For related articles, Q & As and podcasts, see ebizQ's pre-event coverage.)

"Very few companies deliver a great customer experience," Band said. In a recent Forrester survey of 7,700 U.S. consumers, just 7% reported receiving excellent service from companies whose brands were represented in the poll. Fully two-thirds of respondents rated their customer experiences somewhere between "mediocre" and "very poor." Such experiences ultimately translate to a company's bottom line: "The difference between high and low performance can be worth billions of dollars," Band said.


BPM specialists need to consider their own roles in creating great customer experiences. "Are you a brand builder in your company?" Band asked. "Are you helping build the brand in the eyes of the customer? Do you even know what the customer wants? Or are you a brand destroyer?"

Expanding on that last question, Band notes that sometimes process professionals become so focused on efficiency that their efforts actually drive down customer satisfaction. He encouraged BPM pros to help their companies develop what Forrester calls "a customer-obsessed" mindset. Forrester defines a customer-obsessed company as one that "focuses its strategy, its energy and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers."

Becoming an experience-obsessed company involves understanding key action steps in the customer "journey," including: Discover, evaluate, buy, access, use, get support and re-engage (that is, become a repeat customer), Band said. In cases involving a brand's loss of a customer, there's a final action step: Leave.


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