Messy processes – Messy customer experiences?


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Yeah, I am sure you have heard it at least once in your life: “Sorry, it is against our policy”. Lately I have head too many times “It is against regulations”. How is it against regulations when others are doing it? Nah, it is just a easy escape from offering bad customer experiences. How many companies actually mix bad internal processes with regulations? Quite many it seems!

I hope that is not the case in your company. It is actually easy to test. Find out how many times your clients hear phrases like “I’m sorry, our system doesn’t allow us to do that.” Or “It doesn’t work like that. The way our process works is … blaa blaa …”. Those are clear indicators of messy processes leading to messy customer experiences.

And why would you care? Certainly not because more clients would spend more money in your business if those processes were functioning better? Or if your existing clients give you 60-70% higher profitability than the new ones? I’m sure you find those as very good reasons to start aligning your processes to customer experiences. That will actually save you money, it is simple as that. Removing waste from Lean perspective is great, removing it from customer perspective is remarkable.

Too many companies have “inside-out” focus, that is focusing on themselves instead of “outside-in” focus which is about putting the customer in the centre of everything. Processes are a practical way of putting customers in the centre. They are the core of everything that is done in your business. Employees and systems follow processes. Now if you are thinking that you don’t have processes, you may be partly right. They are unstructured; adhoc processes that happen with high variation. But they still are processes.

So, what should you do? Most companies can start from the basics. That is to map out all the relevant processes and customer journeys. You can’t fix something you don’t understand first. Having a map of what is going on makes it easier to plan the desired future state that will respond to customer needs better. That leads to second point, which is using the customer journey maps in conjugation with process map to see where the biggest gaps and waste is. Then you can use Customer Experience Blueprint to define how those processes should work in the future and create a transformation project. Simple, right?


Your customer experiences are outcomes of your processes. Messy processes will lead to messy customer experiences. To fix your customer experiences, you have to fix your processes. And that will take much more customer-centric approach than what traditional process methods can offer you (Lean, Six Sigma, BPM, etc.). You need customer experience management aligned with business process management and IT strategies. That way you can be sure that there are no messy processes in your business.

Here are some reflective questions you can use to evaluate your current situation:

  • Have you done process maps? Are they up to date? Are you using them to understand how they produce customer experiences?
  • Have you done customer journey maps? Are they up to date? Are you using them to understand how they produce successful customer outcomes?
  • Do you have a Customer Experience Blueprint in place that will direct the customer experience and process improvement efforts?
  • Have you done a holistic map that aligns business processes to customer journeys?

For a complementary online training on Customer Experience Blueprint, please visit:
Receive a complementary copy of my book on customer-centric process leadership! Please visit

Janne Ohtonen, Ph.D.
Dr Janne Ohtonen, Director of Customer Experience Management, has dedicated his life to making this world a better place to all customers. He fights against bad customer experiences, ensuring that companies serving their customers are not only profitable but also enjoyable to do business with for a long time.


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