Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

There is a paradox within process improvement efforts. The familiar adage, “fix what bugs you,” is a great motivator for process teams. But what if that doesn’t serve the customer? In a siloed organization, does fixing what bugs us necessarily fix what bugs the customer?

It makes sense to place responsibility for process improvement with the people who own the pain points. Process owners are motivated to address issues when they are the ones experiencing pain. The problem starts when the root causes reside further upstream in a process area owned by some other function. When the issue appears to be outside a process owner’s control, that initiative loses weight among a list of competing priorities.

But regardless of where process issues live, if those pain points trickle down to the customer, then they impact the mission of the entire organization. By focusing on improving the Customer Experience (CX), internal stakeholders shift their perspective away from siloed process pains onto a united effort to improve the Customer Experience. Shifting to a CX perspective may sound daunting, but there is an elegant solution that results in end-to-end partnerships across businesses, regions and functions: Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping.

Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping

The first step is to identify the reasons why the Customer finds it difficult to do business with your organization, and map those reasons back to opportunities for change within the end-to-end organizational process. This allows your process improvement initiatives to identify opportunities to improve the customer experience and prioritize accordingly.

After all, the reason these functions exist — the reason they execute their process is to enable the organization to serve the customer, right? But in many organizations, the customer is often absent from process mapping except as an input, starting or stopping point. Another common error is for functions to see only one aspect of the customer. For example, Sales sees the customer as the Vendor Management Team, but Technical Support sees the customer as the end user.

The purpose of Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping is to educate all functions on the end-to-end process, and their impact on customer variations at each primary step. A Level 1 view minimizes detailed tasks and activities which enables managers to clearly understand the major elements of the process, including internal pain points and the CX experience.

By agreeing on the Level 1, end-to-end process across all functions and customer interactions first, the cross-functional team can more easily identify, prioritize and collaborate on addressing critical cross-functional or CX pain points. Moreover, Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping frees functions to resolve non-cross-functional issues with the confidence that they are not doing harm to other up or downstream functions.

How to Begin

Start with the Customer Journey and what they are experiencing as a result of the internal process pains.

1. What is the first step of the Customer Journey?
2. What is the customer experiencing in this step? What are the process pain points from the customer’s perspective?

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

Now that you know what the customer is going through, you need to figure out why and where the opportunities are to improve their experience.

3. What internal process is occurring in parallel to the Customer Journey?
4. Why is the customer experiencing that pain point? How is the internal process related to the Customer Pain Point?

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

After identifying the internal process issues that are impacting the customer, it is time for some solution brainstorming.

5. What changes can you make to the internal processes to improve the customer’s experience?

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

If the goal of the initiative is simply to decrease “On Hold Time,” and the effort resides solely within Customer Service, then in the example above, a solution could be to increase the number of Customer Service Representatives. However, that would only mitigate some of the pain the customer is experiencing.

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

The opportunity to improve the online catalogue and order form is not owned by the Customer Service team. These activities take place further upstream, before the Customer Journey even begins. The internal stakeholders who own the online catalogue and order form may not have any visibility into the downstream pain points that are clear to Customer Service.

If this turned into an organizational effort to improve the Customer Experience, then more functions would get involved with developing and implementing solutions. That would enable the organization to address and prioritize the cross-functional root causes that could reduce or eliminate the impact of cascading process pain.

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

As you walk through the rest of the Customer Journey and identify the related process pain points, further exploration into upstream root causes and downstream impacts provide solution insights and how to prioritize them. By eliminating pain points in the upstream process the team could prevent pain points in the downstream processes and elevate resulting Customer Journey.


Key benefits of Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping include:

  1. Putting the customer at the center of your process
  2. Identifying and serving all customer variations throughout your process
  3. Establishing a common taxonomy and clarifying ownership at major process touch points
  4. Identifying upstream Quick Wins that have an exponential impact on downstream processes
  5. Achieving consensus on hard-to-define, hard-to-solve cross-functional pain points
  6. Optimizing investment spending and minimizing process and technology rework
  7. Building greater trust and cohesion across businesses, regions and functions

Here is a template to help you start your own Customer Mapping Journey. We thank you for considering Level 1 Customer Journey Mapping! Please reach out to us to share your thoughts, questions and learnings!

Putting the Customer on the Map: How the Customer Journey Drives Cross-Functional Improvement -

Drew Buser has led multiple customer-facing business transformation engagements within the healthcare and financial services industries for over fifteen years. He enjoys bringing change where change is hard, preaching the virtues of end-to-end process design, and spending time with friends and family in San Diego, California. Please feel free to contact him to discuss your thoughts and challenges at [email protected].Le Hua is a customer-obsessed business process optimization consultant with over 10 years of experience in the public sector and medical device industry. She's an expert at facilitating cross-functional collaboration and project management. Please feel free to reach out at [email protected] to further discuss process excellence and leading change.

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