Monday, October 3, 2016

I love it when customers do all our work

Customer Journey; that's an hipster thing, isn't it?
Can you remember when the Customer Journey became a hip thing? 3 years ago? 5 years ago? 
Anyway, doesn't matter. But, when it suddenly became "the next big thing" in Processistan, I remember myself thinking "What have all these organizations been doing before they started thinking about the Customer Journey?"
Didn't they care about their customers? Did they really cause the customer a lot of trouble and effort to buy their products or services? I don't hope so. For their customers. 
Customer Journey; that isn't some standalone thing, is it? 
Besides that, it also surprises me that the Customer Journey is often seen as something separate from a process (that some even call "Internal process"). I think that is strange. Very strange. 
Most processes just have more executors. And  the customer is not seldom one of them. And in these days of digital-everything and co-creation, I think that will increase more and more.

That's why I think the Customer Journey is just part of any process. Not some separate thing. 
I might be sounding like some smart process consultant now, but in the old days I also made the Customer Journey an after thought.  Or no thought at all. 
Back in the days, when I was helping organizations to draw some process models on their walls (before doing it on windows became cool), we labeled the activities of the customer as a "black box" because "how can we know what the customer is doing?"
Indeed, we probably don't know what the customer is doing in his/her free time. But in the context of the process you're talking about, I think you must know what the customer has to do. That's just part of the process design, isn't it? 
Wouldn't it be unfair to not think about the effort and tasks you'll bother your customers with? 
Then it's about answering questions like
  • What information (or other supplies) does a customer have to provide to us?
  • In what way do we want (read: must) the customer to provide that information? 
  • When and how is customer informed about the process for his/her case and what is the effort to get that information?
  • What does a customer finally have to do to get the product or service?
Customer Journey; just a member of the big process family? 
I don't like non-saying consultancy terms like "End-to-End" or "Customer-to Customer", but of course I hope that processes are executed to solve problems of customers. 
And that can be anything:
  • I'm hungry
  • I would like to buy a house and I don't have enough cash 
  • My car is broken and I planned to leave for a road trip tomorrow
  • I want to save some money so my kids can go to university
  • I want to get rid of that headache
  • My printer isn't working 
And probably there are many organization who would love to allocate their resources to solve those problems. And make a few bucks with that. 
That makes the Customer Journey everything you, as a customer, have to do or provide to make those organizations execute their process to solve your problem. 
And when you've been in line for 2 hours, wondered why all the fields on that web form are mandatory, or had to send 3 documents with "missing information", you might know, that journey can easily turn into a traffic jam. 
But, as customers have the power these days, within seconds your service will appear on 129 review websites or you will be bashed on twitter and facebook. 
That's why I can imagine that looking at the Customer Journey is quite hip. But if I had to say it (and I know, I am not), I would take look at it in a little larger context.

Because a Customer Journey is not the whole deal, I'm afraid. 
Customer Journey; isn't that only a small part of the Customer Experience? 
You can design a relaxed Customer Journey as possible, but if you screw it up in the rest of the process, the, another cool marketing term, customer experience, will not be that fantastic.
It's (unfortunately still) not seldom that the different aspects of a performing process are designed, analyzed or improved separate from each other. And then I'm not talking about the customer journey or "internal process" only, but also about other process aspects like:
  • Information management (on different levels)
  • People and their skills needed to execute (parts of) the process
  • Software and Facilities to support the execution and coordination of cases in the process
  • The way the process is managed (task based, goal based)
  • Law and compliance involved in the process
  • <and you can probably name some more> 
And besides the aspects mentioned above, I would definitely not forget that a process has several stakeholders.

The customer for sure, but also the process owning organization, employees and possibly law or certifying parties.

And they all have their own journey. And all those journeys blended together; that's what I would call a process. 
Have a safe journey!