- There are three ways to apply CRM software to improve staff productivity. You can automate manual activities, redesign processes to be more streamlined and effective, and develop analytics to work smarter.
- CRM automation is essentially a three-step process to simplify, streamline and automate; in that order.
- The three most effective tools to optimize business process are agile value stream mapping, the Component Business Model and supporting analytics. Each is explained below.
Customer Relationship Management software reduces costs, primarily labor costs, with workflow tools that increase staff productivity and decrease business process cycle times. System automation also reduces errors, increases efficiencies, improves service levels and supports scale.
In fact, research shows that CRM automation improves productivity by 15 to 34 percent and those cost savings flow directly to the bottom-line.
But here's the thing. You cannot refine a process before the process is consistent. You cannot improve it until it's measurable. And you cannot automate it before it is streamlined. Otherwise, you automate inefficient processes which just incur the inefficiencies faster.
Business Process Design, often referred to as business process improvement (BPI) or business process reengineering (BPR) is a prerequisite to process automation. You want to simplify, streamline and then automate, in that order.
Fortunately, there are some business process design tools to help. Below are the three tools we regularly use when helping clients automate processes using CRM technology.
Agile Value Stream Mapping
When helping clients with business process design we always discover two things – activities that can be done in less time and activities that can be eliminated. The later delivers the most significant time savings.
There are several methods and tools to simplify and streamline business processes. But our experience has been that Agile Value Stream mapping is often the best tool to surface bottlenecks, identify non-value-added activities, measure business process efficiency and best optimize business processes.
A lot of people ask how you calculate the value of CRM processes. There are a few methods but we normally measure tasks within processes and the overall process according to the four Customer Experience Trust elements of being reliable, relevant, convenient and responsive. An illustrative example is shown below.
Agile Value Stream mapping supports the shift from doing things right (efficiency) to doing the right things (effectiveness). It's often the most effective process improvement method because it doesn't just improve your existing processes, it measures the value of what you do in order to eliminate non-valued added steps and activities, and redefine processes to be directly mapped to business outcomes.
That's important because if your processes don't create value that customers care about or are willing to pay for, it may not matter how efficient, fast or cheap they are.
Agile Value Stream Mapping is a particularly effective business process improvement method because it identifies both incremental improvement and work elimination opportunities.
Component Business Model
This business process design method is most used with midsize or larger companies. It's especially helpful for decentralized or global companies that depend on common business processes among multiple lines of business or geographies to efficiently operate and scale.
CBM is also important for companies pursuing customer experience programs. Highly efficient, automated and consistent processes from every part of the company are the precursors for delivering personalized, relevant and contextual customer experiences at scale. Customers expect consistency regardless of the company location or department they engage. Without enterprise-wide process consistency, CX programs are likely to disappoint.
CBM brings organization to enterprise process management by creating a logical model such as the matrix illustration below.
It positions your business competencies horizontally across the top (as columns), accountability levels vertically along the side (as rows) and business components as modular building blocks which lie at the intersections.
Each of those business components then subscribe to a common process development method, as illustrated below.
CRM analytics are the third CRM process automation tool. At the minimum, they show which business processes are working and which need improvement. More so, they bring closed loop reporting to measure both process efficiency and effectiveness.
Good analytics use key performance indicators (KPI) to measure business processes. They surface variances and escalate problems so they can be quickly remedied. In addition to measuring processes efficiency, they can be used for exception-based reports such as lead leakage, neglected sale opportunities, areas for coaching, and activities that don't add value.
Better analytics measure process impact to business outcomes. For example, a key objective with CRM technology is to improve customer relationships. That's an overarching objective that must be examined at multiple levels to measure effectiveness.
The best analytics use industry benchmarks to compare KPIs to peers and competitors and identify underperforming areas that when improved will deliver the biggest upside impact. Industry benchmarks help companies avoid insulating themselves from the real world. When acted upon, they turn competitive knowledge into competitive advantage.
The Point is This
Most companies implement controls, processes and approvals in response to new business strategies or incurring unexpected events. Our CRM process design experience shows that many times the strategies and events change, but the controls, processes and approvals remain, even if they are no longer relevant.
Strategies change on average, every 14 months, however, business processes change or are formally updated every 4 years. This gap creates inefficiencies that frustrate staff and increase labor cost.
Business process improvement methods and tools root out these inefficiencies, streamline customer facing processes, eliminate non-value-added tasks or activities, and facilitate scalability.