As an outcome of a project aimed to introduce a business processes automation system, company executives always expect to see a tangible result: satisfied clients who spend more. But this is by no means always the case, and a considerable part of the automation projects eventually fails. Let’s talk about why this happens and how such an unfortunate ending can be prevented.
There are special systems for business processes automation. For instance, Order Management Systems are used to organize the work with orders, and Business Process Management tools are used for business processes general description. Quite frequently such systems turn out to be expensive and hard to introduce. So, according to the common sense, the company executives decide to optimize these business processes before introducing them. This is reasonable because it is better to take care of a mess first and then launch an optimization, instead of creating an automated mess.
It is exactly at this moment when everything stops going as planned. If the company’s processes don’t produce value for a client, it would be really hard for the management to believe that introducing complicated and expensive automation software is actually necessary. The managers can be understood here: they consider the savings on the cost optimization during the processes implementation to be insignificant and insufficient to cover the expenses on the BPM and OMS introduction.
To change this situation it is possible to shift focus towards the improvement of the customer experience. The significance of the optimization increases immediately whenever something is getting better for a client. New features and pleasant differences from competitors make a client more loyal, and he would bring more money through direct purchases or recommendations.
There are both simple and more complicated ways to make the improvements for the final consumer. Talking about an easier way we should start from end-to-end business processes automation: from getting an order to the feedback on its fulfillment. It all can be set in order to inform a client about his order as much as possible, for example through e-mail, text message or by calling him shortly and on time – ideally within a few minutes. Calling a client after the order fulfillment to ask for his opinion about the service would be a good practice – it can increase the client’s satisfaction and bring an invaluable feedback on which a incentive scheme may be based.
A more complicated (but also more rewarding) way is to reduce the time of the order fulfillment by decreasing the number of the tasks performed by the employees. The key point here is to give a customer an impression that the company predicts his wishes. This is only possible as a result of a thoroughly designed process. This is not to forget that a process has not only to be thought out, but it also has to be introduced.
It gets much harder in terms of organization if we are talking about a “manual” process, especially a complex one that involves many employees not to mention external suppliers and contractors. Any updates in it will require re-training of all affected participants. Even the most elaborate process can be sabotaged by the employees. In a system with an automated process it is much harder to fake off and deceive the employer.
Now we had enough theoretical ideas, let’s look at a real example. Since we’ve not only created an open source Hydra OMS software, but have also developed a billing system for service providers of the same name, we will provide an example from the field of telecom that is familiar to us.
One of our clients is a major service provider with a few hundred thousand customers. This company outsources about 50 installation crews which, on average, make 200 visits to the clients a day. Until they introduced the automation, the service provider had to prepare a whole set of documents before every visit including:
The department that managed the work of the installation crews included six employees and a manager. Here is what the preparation process for a client visit looked like:
Thus, there was a whole department performing a kind of work that was not too complicated, and most employees of this department could be easily replaced by software.
After the OMS introduction the process of a customer connection changed dramatically. Here is a brief list of innovations:
We should particularly mention the innovations that helped to improve the customer experience:
In such case the benefits for the customers are obvious: they don’t have to wait long to be connected, to call the office and the installer many times, not to mention the reduction of the problems probability creating a situation that “the installer left but my TV never started working”. The relation of the installation crew’s bonuses with the customer’s satisfaction made contractor’s employees much more friendly and ready to help.
In the highly competitive markets such as telecom the companies have to fight for clients because there are almost no unreached people. That means that the service quality becomes a top priority. According to statistics the chances of losing a new customer, if he wasn’t connected in the same day or the next day after the application, grow many times: a client can change his mind or go to the competitors. In a big city the connecting on the third day after the application reduces the new clients conversion by 15-30% which results in big losses for the business.
In such conditions the benefits of introducing of the business processes automation tools are immediately obvious, so it is much easier to decide on starting such project and finish it, then if you don’t have such incentives.