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Guest Blogger

by Bastian Nominacher, co-founder and co-CEO, Celonis

Over the past decade, digital disruptors have overturned almost every industry, with tech heavyweights such as Amazon, Uber and Airbnb transforming what it means to provide the very best customer service. As consumers, we’ve come to expect same-day delivery, more choice of product, more convenience and a near-instant response from businesses when we have a complaint or query. And, such is the proliferation of social media, that it is now the go-to platform for many disgruntled customers when their parcel turns up late or contains the wrong item. This kind of exposure on such a public forum can at best show the business in a negative light, and at worst, have a profound impact on its reputation.

As a result, companies are under intense scrutiny to deliver magic customer moments if they’re to retain their customers’ business. This is true even if they operate in different industries than the major tech players, as consumers now demand this same level of service from every vendor they engage with in their day-to-day lives.

The customer service challenges that businesses face in the front office typically have their root causes in the back office. Vendors didn’t deliver their goods, POs were issued too late, or there were quality issues in the warehouse, for instance. Looking at how internal processes operate in the back office can help businesses to understand where efficiencies can be made. Small deviations from standard processes may seem to only have a marginal effect, but when you consider just how many processes a company has in place, it becomes apparent that at scale, they can actually have a significant impact on efficiency. So, what can businesses do to make their customer journey more intelligent and deliver better, more personalised experiences?

Finding a needle in a haystack

In the past few years, every business has become increasingly technology-based, with more and more processes being driven by IT systems. While this speeds up certain processes, it creates a more complex network for the company to manage and control. At the same time, data volumes are skyrocketing – more data has been created in the last two years than the previous 5,000 years of humanity. As a result, businesses are sitting on a wealth of information but without the right tools in place, they don’t know how to make sense of it.

Identifying issues in core processes can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But technology has evolved to a point where algorithms are powerful enough to help even the largest of enterprises sift through the massive amounts of data being collected; uncover hidden patterns, correlations and customer preferences; and make more informed decisions. One such technology is process mining, a new category of big data analytics that helps businesses connect the dots between the front office and back office and uncover the root cause of process inefficiencies – materials being out of stock, leading to products being delivered late, for example.

Putting a spotlight on inefficiencies 

The technology uses the digital traces left behind by every IT-driven operation in a company and provides complete transparency into how business processes are operating in real life. It automatically reconstructs the as-is process from the raw data and provides a real-time visualisation of the entire organisation’s business processes. Using this insight, companies can see how efficient (or inefficient) their core operations are and identify any causes of delays or bottlenecks. They can then make more informed decisions about where the most pressing opportunities are to drive efficiencies.

Combined with machine learning, process mining becomes a powerful tool for businesses looking to predict the impact of those inefficiencies. For instance, by collecting front and back office data, the technology can calculate the probability of a customer returning to the business‘ website to buy a product again after a late delivery.

For those customers who have had a bad experience with the business, they can be retargeted with a promotion, specifically aimed at enticing them back. Process mining can be used to identify which customers should be prioritised for the promotion, and then simulate what would happen if the promotion was sent to these customers, and how revenues would be affected over the next month.

Today’s increasingly competitive marketplace is centred on technology, mobility and social media, and those businesses that want a slice of the pie must sit up and take notice of the tech giants’ tactics when it comes to customer service. But by combining the immense data sources that businesses are already sitting on with process mining technology, they can make their customer journeys more intelligent and deliver the magic moments that today’s consumers expect.

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