Business Process is Dead: Long Live Customer Journeys!

Over the past year it has become increasingly noticeable that organisations no longer wish to talk about Business Process. It’s too inward focused, too biased toward internal activities and too reliant on driving operational efficiency with little regard for customer value. Talk of Business Process is being replaced by Customer Journeys and the need to create a more holistic view of the business, including an ‘outside-in’ view.

long-live-customer-journey-and-bpmWhy turn to customer journeys?

It is generally recognised that acquiring a new customer costs 4-6 times more than keeping an existing customer (see: The Chartered Institute of Marketing Fact File – ‘Cost of customer acquisition vs. customer retention’. Add increased competition, introduction of new switching regulations and the rise of social media and it is easy to see why customer engagement and experience ranks so highly on the strategic agenda of most organisations.

In turn, business leaders are focusing attention to back office performance, driving the need for end-to-end visibility of operations, aligned to the customer. Indeed, even impressive cost reduction programmes fall short if they fail to put the customer at the heart of transformation. Customer Journeys are becoming an important part of the Process Architecture in their own right.

Imagine for a second dropping a penny through your business; Where does it go? Who touches it? Where does it get held up? Who owns it at each stage? Why are there bottlenecks? How does it look on the other side? These are just some of the questions organisations are looking to answer by incorporating Customer Journeys into their strategic Process Improvement agenda. Of course, the penny is representing the customer throughout the journey.

BPM still has a critical role to play

Leaders remain keen to define, view and control Processes but are demanding more focus on defining Processes in a manner that reflects what customers are truly experiencing end-to-end. This leads to a fuller understanding of the connections between upstream and downstream Processes and recognition of where risks and controls are located.

Business Process Management techniques help organisations understand Processes more effectively – supporting the identification and elimination of waste in order to deliver improvements to services that impact Customer Experience. By aligning these activities with end-to-end Customer Journey maps it is possible to piece together a roadmap for delivering better customer outcomes by focusing on improvements that can deliver increased value to both the customer and the business.

BPM still has a critical role to play – helping to establish a single version of how the business operates that is accessible in a structured and navigable way across functions, brands and geographies. By thoroughly understanding the end-to-end Customer Experience and supporting Processes organisations can explore ways in which to consolidate and simplify Processes whilst ensuring minimal disruption to service and a smooth Customer Journey. BPM is also providing critical information to management reacting to customer feedback, helping to decipher costs and expected benefits for implementing new service channels or products.


I believe we will begin to see the roles and responsibilities between Customer Experience and Process Improvement teams start to blend. Tools and techniques enabling Process modelling standardisation will become paramount to faster deployment and scalability, with faster opportunity identification and collaboration supporting Continuous Improvement as a culture – aligning Customer Journeys and Business Processes in a more meaningful, sustainable way.

If you enjoyed this article you can download my whitepaper: “Ten Steps to Better Customer Outcomes” for free.

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By Russ Boreham @ T-Impact Limited | September 26, 2014

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