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Human element still plays critical role in successful business process management

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
July 18, 2012

Business process management solutions can help businesses unlock major procedural advances that help them better serve their customers and generate revenue more efficiently. However, companies striving to make the most of BPM need to use the technology as a platform that enables people to work and interact with customers more effectively, not a system that blindly automates everything possible and strips processes to such an extent that the human element is lost, a recent Business2Community report explained.

To illustrate this point, the news source told the story of a call center that used BPM to support a major overhaul in its call receiving operations. In theory, this kind of improvement is important to ensure calls are handled efficiently and customer service representatives can field the number of service calls they receive on a day-to-day basis. However, the purpose of BPM is primarily to align data, processes and technology so that businesses can better serve customers, which generally means maintaining the key human element that is vital to meaningful interaction.

In the case of the call center presented in the report, the BPM solution was used to root any unnecessary discussion out of all customer service calls. Because of this, call center staff became so mechanical in their response to customers that they no longer felt like actual people who clients could talk to about their issues and get help. The BPM system helped the company reduce call times, improve operational efficiency and identify key areas for process improvements, but the call center managers took the solution too far and ended up eliminating the relational interaction that helps companies develop a truly customer-centric approach to operations.

While excess automation and process refining can limit the effectiveness of a BPM plan, a BPM software solution that is used effectively can actually help companies retain the human element in their operations. In many cases, the number of tasks that employees have to perform plays a prominent role in forcing workers to rush through customer interactions and not provide the relational elements needed for quality service. Using BPM to streamline those mundane processes can allow organizations to develop customer-focused policies that enable employees to spend more time on meaningful interactions with clients.