BPM and Twitter – Tweeting to BPM


A few weeks back, this post of Dr.Natalie provoked several threads of thought on the growing influence of Social Media in business. Besides the obvious benefits of Social Media in Marketing, the biggest benefit from applying Social Media in business is arguably from the customer service function.

Twitter for example allows customers to interact with individuals in the customer service functions, establishing several one-on-one communication threads directly. Assuming the agents are sufficiently trained and use the medium effectively, the communication style can be personal and can bring about a feeling that one is interacting with another individual genuinely eager to help and not to some impersonal customer service machinery driven by rigid structures and processes.

However, most other channels of customer interaction – Phone, Email, etc are typically integrated with applications – and that helps in maintaining SLAs, TATs and monitoring metrics on service requests. One caveat of using Social Media in Customer Service is that agents may get too involved in specific requests that their ability to multi-task and quickly close calls can be compromised. The other caveat is that maintaining and monitoring CS metrics may be compromised. Of course one might say that every request triggered over Twitter would be logged by the service agent, but that’s allowing a manual gap to creep into your CS function.

Therefore, in addition to aligning Social Media to people, benefits can be taken a notch further by aligning them to applications.

Prof. Dr. Michael Rosemann writes about bringing BPM and Twitter together in this interesting post on the Aris Community Blog(also read Sandy Kemsley’s commentary on the post).

Dr. Rosemann’s post talks about how Twitter can be used in three ways – follow processes – that is to have updates provided when changes to processes are made; have Processes follow you – in situations for example when you go on leave and substitute needs to be assigned; and finally use Twitter at an instance level as an alerts and notifications channel.

In all these cases, Twitter can be immensely useful. However, Twitter is used as a delivery channel or as a medium of output.

As an input channel into BPM, the potential of Twitter can be further exploited –

  1. Trigger new process instances, for example a customer service instance. When a customer sends a Twitter message, an instance of a Service Request is triggered. A whole lot of status updates can be maintained by using pre-defined keywords in the messages sent by the CS representative owning the call, perhaps using a proprietary service. This becomes very meaningful in keeping the sanity of customer service requests and in treating all requests on par regardless of the channel your customer may choose to communicate.
  2. Elementary Requests (those that can pack all related input info in under 140 characters of course!) for Approvals, authorizations, notification-wait type of activities, etc can be sent and received via Twitter. Once the approval/authorization/go ahead is received, the process instance would move on. Today many BPMS use an email approval functionality – and twitter can also be another channel.
  3. Querying for status – these could be internal or external, related to delivery of finished goods, serviced items, status of processing requests and so on. Users would need to quote a specific order number, ticket number or other such unique code that would fetch the data. However these need not be necessarily a BPM linked functionality

Anymore you can think of?

Update: Ultimus, a BPM vendor on the Gartner Magic Quadrant,  announces that the feature was recently included in its product.

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3 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1

    Great way to start a discussion on what is certainly on a lot of people’s minds. Open customer communications via social computing platforms such as Twitter have not only been effective in picking up on general customer service inefficiencies, It’s also been a very effective to show others how far you are willing to go to take care of your customers. Great way to not only support existing customers but impress prospects.

    Some look-before-you-leap considerations….
    Many larger companies are going to have trouble dealing with this “rogue” channel that’s not tied into their central BPM systems that you describe above. Examples of companies that have managed this are Dell and Comcast. However, they have designated people that know how to navigate the social web and the emerging rules of etiquette. Something that CSRs may need to be trained on or exposed to. Of course this is all changing rapidly. Smaller companies where everyone helps with everything are handling this very well already.

    In general companies need to think through what notification and interaction processes really benefit by being on Twitter vs. Email. The search interface is becoming a more common use of Twitter and does it make sense to keep posting messages that are irrelevant to the rest of the user base? Twitter is about adding value to others as well as the intended recipient. And some of these messages may be private (everyone doesn’t need to know that I’m late on my payment).

    Again, great post and I enjoyed reading your perspective.


  2. 2

    Absolutely agree with your comment on eliminating general inefficiencies using SM. I have encountered many service interaction situations of clients that seemed very tough to automate – especially when it came to the nitty gritty of dynamics in customer interaction. This new medium can so help in nicely tie up some loose ends and ease that problem out.

    Like you say it is very important to think through the whole SM plan and have a wholesome approach. Organizations cannot ignore the need to cross-train those using SM to interact externally – and there will be several overlaps across functions, for example between Marketing and Service, that become more apparant – great Customer experience being a joint responsibility of both marketing and sales.

    The single most interesting part though about SM according to me is that it can build that bridge between human activities and automated activies – that is to say, if used right, SM can allow you to automate parts of customer interaction activities without compromising the personal human side of these interactions.

    Perhaps that is really the key benefit we could expect from SM.
    .-= Jaisundar´s last blog ..BPM and Twitter – Tweeting to BPM =-.


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