Why isn't there more BPM in the Contact Center?

I met recently with a major US bank that has achieved some successful process deployments with a non-Pega BPM solution.  They have embraced a process-centric approach to development and are able to deliver rapid, iterative projects based on that BPM platform.  By all accounts they "got" BPM and saw real value from their BPM implementations.   So I was surprised when they outlined a decidedly non-process centric approach to their Contact Centers:  build a custom web application in Java and integrate to the BPM tool only when there was a need to spawn processes that leave the contact center.   For some reason, this customer (and many other organizations that "get" BPM and many other BPMS vendors) don't see the value of using BPM for the hundreds of processes that drive their Contact Centers.

To my mind, the Contact Center is sweet spot for business processes in any organization:

  • Most customer-centric processes--i.e. the ones that either bring in new business or retain existing business--start, end and/or flow-through the Contact Center
  • For the majority of customers, the Contact Center (and its extensions to web-self service, chat, etc.) represents their primary touchpoint with your organization.  Here is where you should muster all of your process (and rules) intelligience to deliver the best possible experience.  And thanks to the advance of "self-service" (via IVR, the web, etc.), when your customer does actually reach a human the contact center, you inevitably dealing with both a complex process (that self-service couldn't handle) and a "moment of truth" where the customer relationship hangs in the balance.
  • Given the rapid turnover of Contact Center employees, a process-centric approach is essential for delivering consistent, quality service without massive training costs.
  • Given the multiple touch points a customer may have (web, Call Center, etc.), being able to share one process between them is essential to consistent service and a "360 view" of customer activity

The analysts seem to get this (and Pega customers are certainly enjoying the value), so why aren't we seeing more of this?  I think the answer is that too many BPM implementations think about the high-level process, and forget (or are unable) to capture the user and customer intent.  Capturing "intent" is key to improving contact center processes, and it involves multiple levels of understanding:

  1. What is the customer trying to achieve?  Why are they calling/chatting/emailing/texting, etc?  In the CRM space, many organizations are using personas to drive this thinking.
  2. What does the organization what to achieve both for and from the customer?   Concierge service?  Opportunities for additional business?  Again, personas are being used frequently.
  3. What does the CSR need to do to achieve this?  What systems do they need to access or update?  What services, processes or offers should they suggest in order to anticipate the customer's needs?  What scripting should they use?  What language should they operate in?  In many of today's outsourced contact centers, the CSR is faced with yet another question: What organization am I representing?

The trouble is that in their capturing of business process models, many BPM tools neglect (or are unable) to capture the rules that drive the intent of the process.  And they neglect the almost immediate business value (consistency of service, improved productivity, reduced training, etc.) that comes with being able to guide a user--even a single user--through a complex process.   There are other challenges a BPM tool must face to succeed in the Contact Center: it must be capable of generating world-class, flexible user interfaces; it must support tiered interactions; it must be able to run in different languages depending on both the user and the customer on the line, but the starting point comes with being intent-driven.  If your BPM tool can go beyond a process model as just there series of steps (or "activities" and "event gateways") and begin to capture the full scope of your business's and your customer's intent, you can begin to drastically change the way customers interact with your organization and deliver the promise of BPM to the "cliff-face" of customer service.