If the past twelve months have demonstrated anything, it is that businesses need to be able to adapt their business models more quickly to meet changing customer needs. Developing an increasingly customer-centric attitude is critical to every business’ overall strategy.  However, in today’s economy, taking a historical approach will no longer work. Companies still running the same customer mapping and experience programs they implemented years ago are potentially missing out on genuine innovation opportunities.

Customer experience does not happen in a vacuum; it requires a human touch. There are many forces at play, from employees to competitors, and for any experience program to be successful, all aspects of a customer’s experience need to be understood. Today’s most successful companies are moving away from a siloed view of the customer journey to the overall business experience—as an integrated, cultural driver of change.

Foundations are essential: Touchpoints and journey mapping

Customer journey maps clarify and develop essential parts of the customer journey. Journey maps allow you to stand in the shoes of your customers and, by doing so, improve nearly every aspect of their experience. They also provide you with a high-level overview you need to target customers with the content and touchpoints that will move them through the sales, loyalty and advocate cycles.

Companies looking to improve their customer experience face several challenges. Their current systems often focus on touchpoints instead of assessing the end-to-end customer experience; they do not structure their organisation for customer-centricity, and their processes and procedures are complex and inefficient.  A paper from UMEA School of Business, Economics and Statistics notes that, “Companies worldwide are becoming increasingly reliant on the touch points that they can control without any true understanding of how these touch points interact with the customers[1].”

For any business looking to become more customer-centric, mapping a customer’s journey is an important first step. You cannot know what you need to change until you can map out the entire customer experience. Doing so will help you understand the moments that matter to your customers and identify the touchpoints, processes and resources that need to be changed to improve service experiences.

By having integrated journey maps in place, a business can capture customers’ experiences, needs, perceptions, and processes to identify both problems and opportunities across the whole of the organisation.

Building on the foundations: incorporating experience and delivery

When we talk about customer experience, it is all about putting customer needs at the centre of what a company does and ensuring all the touchpoints are aligned to deliver a flawless experience.

Developing and implementing an experience strategy is a significant first step, but we will limit the impact without the proper alignment, expectations and processes in place. Successful customer-experience efforts apply a human filter to the collected data to ask overarching questions. This includes insights from both the customer and employees. It’s vital to include employee feedback, as many can see potential opportunities to streamline the process to improve customer experience.

The result is satisfied customers. When a customer is happy with a company, they cost less to serve and are more likely to be loyal customers and potentially advocate for the company.

From journey to experience to delivery: 5 steps to mapping an integrated Customer Delivery experience

In most cases, companies are not structured to think about the journeys their customers take. According to Gartner[2], 82% of organisations have created a customer journey map, but only 47% use those maps effectively.

Thinking about holistic customer journeys can require an operational and cultural shift that engages the organisation across functions and from top to bottom. The following 5-step model can help a business map the customer journey and deliver a superior experience for customers, leading to increased loyalty and retention.


1. Outside-In approach

For organisations to lead from a customer-centric position, they increasingly need a comprehensive view of the full customer journey and the ability to get deep, granular insight into what drives customer experience. These maps place the customer at the centre of all processes, systems and activities, shifting the organisational mindset to an outward focus.

A real customer-centric transformation often entails rethinking a business or even the business model itself, which is the only way the change can achieve its full impact and remain sustainable. By taking an outside-in approach using customer-centric mapping, you can identify opportunities for innovation, create efficiencies, break down silos, and speed up the time to market, all while improving your customer experience.

2. Process simplification

Establishing a seamless view of a customer’s relationship and experiences across channels, products, and business units requires the organisation to access a single view of the customers’ journey. This can require breaking down the silos between departments and integrating technology systems to enable real-time insights into how a customer interacts with the organisation at each part of their journey.

Because companies do not focus on these end-to-end customer journeys, you end up with a cumbersome experience, which is not optimised for the customer but optimised for the company. What creates complexity is the company – as new systems, processes and policies are layered on old ones. Identifying the technology and tools you need to replace those tedious, manual processes can take time but will ultimately help the organisation deliver improved experiences, align your resources and capabilities, and provide a seamless experience for your customers.

3. Aligning Employee experience

In most companies, regardless of department or role, winning in the marketplace means creating satisfied customers. Too often, your employees are so focused on individual and team goals. They can lose awareness of the big picture. When employees are always striving to hit their numbers, they are no longer following the customer’s mindset first, which leads to a misalignment of priorities and perceptions across the business.

Studies have shown again and again that employee engagement and a differentiated customer experience are intimately connected. A customer-centric culture is key to a differentiated customer experience, and engaged employees are critical to a customer-centric culture. So how do you create more engaged employees?

Engaged employees create better customer experiences, which then drive higher profits. But that’s now only one part of the equation. Most successful organisations recognise it is not just employee engagement but also customer insights from employees that drive real organisational outcomes. Therefore, it is not surprising that employees who are invested in the experience of their customers create memorable and lasting experiences and engender loyal brand advocates.

Though employee experience efforts are frequently considered distinct from customer experience ones, companies that optimise their experience improvements are adept at finding the point they intersect. Improve your employees’ experience, and you are well on your way to improving your customers’.

In a recent analysis, InMoment[3] found that nearly one-third of employee engagement feedback contained themes related to the customer experience. Tapping into feedback channels and supporting Voice of the Employee programs is crucial to gain a holistic view of the customer experience and potential blockers to improving the service experience.

The Harvard Business Review[4] reported that “71% of businesses surveyed ranked employee engagement as ‘very important’ in achieving overall organisational success. Additionally, companies with high employee engagement scores have twice the customer loyalty of companies with average employee engagement levels.” Where the misalignment comes from is the departmental silos that impact multiple customer journeys. Therefore, cross-functional collaboration is crucial for putting the customer need at the centre. This includes all parts of the organisation, from sales and marketing to support areas like IT and finance, working together to improve the customer journey along the various touchpoints.

4. Encouraging a transformation mindset

Once companies understand their customers and thus improve themselves, it is time to work on the next step in your continuous improvement framework: transforming the business. This means operationalising feedback, creating a customer-centric culture, and acting on improvement opportunities.

Transformation is an essential step of the process because companies can actively improve themselves and because it is what your customers expect is happening. Transformations can be small or large, from realigning business units to resetting organisational structures and operating model to meet elevated customer expectations.

Businesses need to build strong change leadership, with a clear vision that encourages and empowers the employees to embrace a customer-centric aligned structure that enables flexibility to adapt to changing customer needs. Building a continuous improvement mindset and customer-centricity takes a dedicated change management focus, embedded across all parts of the organisation, with clear support from the top-down.

There’s no shortcut to creating exceptional customer experiences; it requires ensuring that every interaction aims to leave them with a positive experience.

5. Measure, respond and improve

You need flexibility in your business model to respond to the changing needs of your customers. This includes incorporating a continuous improvement framework for your experience program.

Customer journey maps only bring value when they’re used to inform business priorities. Action plans are vital in ensuring that transformation happens, especially since multiple departments and teams must do their part if the organisation wants to see it through.

There are many ways to measure customer experience, from net promoter scores to analysing churn and sales data. At a minimum, companies need management systems with feedback loops that teach employees which behaviours yield the best results and guide innovation teams on where to focus their efforts. The best tools allow companies to accurately predict each of its customers’ current satisfaction and future spend based on their experiences. No matter what metrics are in place, they should be supplemented by regular feedback from both customers and employees to identify potential focus and opportunity areas.

Designing the Future

Reorganising around customer journeys is a transformational endeavour. Companies cannot build journeys discretely or in isolation; they need to reconfigure how the organisation and its people work and improve and track progress. Companies can only achieve fundamental improvement when they have taken the time and effort needed to understand what their audiences are saying, which allows companies to know more about the experiences they provide and what about those interactions needs fixing.

Persigehl and Vermeer[5] note that, “considering the interlocking relationship of touch points, the customer experience and the wider customer journey becomes critical to be seen through the lens of the purchasing decision process.”

The best programs are about changing the culture, not just checking the box. By instilling good habits, creating a strategic focus, and engaging your employees, the company’s DNA develops into customer-centric and continuously improving. They can then transform the business by using an action plan to execute this new understanding across the company.

Where to start?

We are experts in customer, employee, and market experience, but more importantly—we’re experts in human behaviour. Our team goes beyond journey mapping to help companies recognise and prove the power and value of building customer-centric experience initiatives.

We work with clients to design Customer Experience and Delivery maps in co-creation workshops and instil a cultural mindset shift through new processes and learning programs.

Using this approach, companies can transform customer and employee experience, drive transformation and innovation, and continue to identify opportunities for improvements across their organisation.


[1] Daniel Francesco Persigehl, Tobias Vermeer, “The never-ending story: discovering touch points and customer experiences along the customer journey”, UMEA School of Business, Economics and Statistics, 2019

[2] https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/articles/how-to-create-an-effective-customer-Journey-map

[3] https://inmoment.com/en-au/

[4] https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf

[5] Daniel Francesco Persigehl, Tobias Vermeer, “The never-ending story: discovering touch points and customer experiences along the customer journey”, UMEA School of Business, Economics and Statistics, 2019

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