Process & The Customer Experience: Taking Your Business “Outside-In”

This post was originally published on the iDatix Insider’s Blog.


As organizations we have become crippled by our internal processes.

We’ve become so entwined in what we do day to day we’ve forgotten why we exist–to serve our customer–to give them what they need, to give them what they want and sometimes to give them what they don’t know they need yet!

The customer is our reason for being, without them we cease to exist, yet through our bureaucracy and our bulk we become a bloated beast of burden–unable to move rapidly to meet the needs of the lightning fast pace of life around us.

One of the fastest growing (and most controversial) topics for discussion in the process world relates to what has become known as “Outside-in” process design.

On paper outside-in sounds like a “no brainer” – it’s about looking at process from the customer’s experience.

Advocates of outside-in approaches such as the Customer Experience Management (CEM Method) argue that by using outside-in approaches they can simultaneously reduce costs, improve the customer experience and improve revenue. This they call “the triple crown” of benefits.


Successful Customer Outcomes

Outside-in, fundamentally, is about aligning the way business is done with successful customer outcomes.

That may sound simple but careful thought is required to specify what the real customer outcome is. Outside-in takes an approach that focuses on the customer experience.

The part that most organisations get wrong is that their definition of the customer experience is blinkered – the way that they have run their business and approached what they think their customers want has become immobile and inflexible.

So whilst traditional companies try to solve their problems by looking at their internal processes and improving them (with the misguided aim of improving their service to the customer) outside-in starts with the customer experience and builds the internal business processes to support the customer alignment.


The Method

Through workshops with little more than sticky-notes, brown paper and key staff in the room we can start to radically change our thinking of organizational processes.

When we look at the customer experience we are looking for three key items within the process:

Moments of Truth

Any interaction with the customer – this could be a customer-to-person interaction, for example, or a customer-to-system interaction. These moments represent an opportunity in time to delight the customer or to fail!

Break points

Any hand-off in the process – these represent potential points where the process can break down.

Business Rules

Any decision point in the process. These can add complexity, increase effort and be a potential failure point.

Thinking about our process with all its moments of truth, break points and business rules for a moment it is easy to see how customer dissatisfaction can occur.

You may think that having lots of moments of truth (i.e. customer interaction) might be a good thing, but think of it this way: if you had to call up a company to get some information but each time you received the information it was inaccurate and had to call again, how long would it take to trigger your dissatisfaction?

And what if instead the company had not only given you the information first-time, but had given you extra information that had helped you further?


Next we seek to improve our processes.

But how do we do this? We need to:

  1. Eliminate (or)
  2. Improve

Each moment of truth, break point or business rule represents an opportunity, but the more of them we have the greater our chance of failure occurring.

So to reduce our risk of failure we seek to eliminate as many as we can. Obviously we can’t practically get rid of all of them, but we need to ensure that the ones that we leave in place are improved as much as possible and that they are aligned to successful customer outcomes.


If you’d like to find out more or to become trained in the CEM Method I’d recommend you visit the following links:

The BP Group,
The BP Group on Linkedin,
Steve Tower’s Blog (World Outside-in Guru)




Courtesy to Craig Reid. This blog is also available on The Process Ninja.


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By Craig Reid @ The Process Ninja | September 12, 2012

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