It has taken me a long time to recognize that companies function through a series of processes, mostly executed by people (employees) and supported by information and systems. I was familiar with process maps that show activities happening in sequence and branches caused by certain conditions, but these were mainly paper exercises; my working assumption was that people “just get on with things.” But looking closely reveals that getting on with things happens in processes. To help make this clear, OpenConnect provides a product designed to create process visibility of activities, variances and metrics, with the goal of improving performance.
To do this, the product, Comprehend, begins by collecting outputs from various systems; these may include click streams produced as users enter and access systems and data through their desktops, call recordings, service tickets, events produced by technical systems, a completed customer survey and others. It uses a series of collectors to gather data from the enterprise website, user desktops, transaction files, text files, social media, old-style 3270 systems and databases. The items are processed by an “intelligence cluster” that treats each of them as an event and correlates them into a series of events that make up a business process; for example, a series of clicks made by a user show that the user is processing a new insurance claim, or a series of clicks on a self-service portal, followed by entries from the IVR system, followed by a call center agent creating a trouble ticket together represent a user trying to solve an issue using several communication channels. Business processes can be shown as active process maps that include the flow of events, branches, volumes of events flowing between activities, how frequently different branches were taken and timing between events, in effect creating process maps from the bottom up using data produced by existing systems. The product also produces a series of dashboards and charts to display performance information.
Of course, there is a purpose to this, and Comprehend can be used in three “intelligence” scenarios. Process intelligence shows users how processes are performing and where they should be improved. Workforce intelligence shows managers how different users are performing and which need training in what tasks. Customer intelligence shows how customers are interacting with the company, what the outcomes are and again what needs to be improved.
This last use is particularly relevant to one of my core areas of interest, customer experience management. My personal experience in contact centers and the Ventana Research benchmark research into customer experience management show that contact center managers are not very process-oriented – they focus on agents keeping queue lengths as short as possible and handling as many calls as possible as fast as possible. These efficiency metrics don’t do much to improve the customer experience. Center managers may have to change their focus as executives become interested in the emerging performance metric of the customer effort score (CES). This score measures how easy it is for a customer to interact with a company and thus shows the quality of its interaction-handling processes. The OpenConnect product can track the outcome of customer interactions and point out interaction-handling processes that need improving and areas where agents need training.
Comprehend supports a performance improvement cycle similar to that proposed by Ventana Research, which is a process of understand (measure past and current performance), optimize (analyze what areas need improving) and align (initiate action to make sure improvements take place). Are you applying this sort of process to improve your handling of customer interactions? If so, tell us more and please come and collaborate with us.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director