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.
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 –
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.