looking forward
April 7, 2014

You Have Built It. Will They Come?

Michael A. Coakley, Director, Audit & Accounting

Aligning business processes with customer needsCompanies often build a solution and then expect customers to buy the product or service as is, without understanding what customers truly need or want. A failed transaction or customer complaint can highlight this backward approach, but the customer’s problem is often remedied without addressing the larger issue. The company creates a one-time solution and then goes back to business as usual.

Many companies wisely expend a lot of time and resources on process improvement initiatives such as lean and Six Sigma in an effort to reduce waste, become more efficient, and increase revenue. Yet customers generally do not care how tight your business processes are. They care about receiving the value they expect from the goods or services they purchase, and they want the best possible experience in the process. Your company can accomplish and almost guarantee this result by being customer focused.

The concept of business process management (BPM) has been around for a few decades, helping companies align business processes and functions with customer needs. BPM embraces the voice of the customer, which in turn helps shape a company’s business strategies and operations. Customers become more involved and engaged at various stages of the process and with multiple departments, not just sales and accounting. To implement successfully, you must have customer-focused people throughout your company, from the top down.

BPM often takes a company’s lean, Six Sigma, or other continuous improvement initiatives to the next level by ensuring that its business processes all work well together and are synchronized with customer demands. As a result, some of the benefits of BPM generally include reduced costs and waste, increased productivity and efficiency, and fewer errors.

When properly implemented, BPM results in the best use of company resources, generating maximum return on investment, and perhaps most importantly, satisfied customers. The importance of being a customer-focused organization – aligning your business processes with customer needs – cannot be underestimated. Building it is only half the equation; it amounts to nothing if you cannot attract customers.

Michael A. Coakley can be reached at mcoakley@kmco.com or 215.441.4600.

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