The Shocking Truth about Customer Experience

The single biggest piece of advice I give to senior executives setting out on the Customer Experience journey is to STOP. Yes seriously, the vast majority of CX efforts are completely misaligned.

CX Efforts Misaligned

Don’t get me wrong the intentions are good. Unfortunately, it goes something like this:

  1. Top Team are listening and decide they need to get with this customer centricity/Outside-In/working backwards thinking.
  2. Senior Management makes noises that the customer is THE thing the business must focus on.
  3. The Executive engage the marketing and sales guys to get with it and start pushing the message.
  4. Functional leaders hear the noise and bluster. They start using the language, whilst thinking this is just more fluff and nonsense. They make the right noises for now but keep their heads down, because they know this will go the same way as so many other ‘strategic initiatives’.
  5. Fundamentally functional heads carry on working with the out of date reward system that promotes sub-optimal industrial age thinking and practice.
  6. The Executive see the usual inertia, results not coming through, apathy and indifference and decide their business isn’t really an Amazon.
  7. Top Team then reverts to just getting better at what we are doing, then when someone in ‘our industry’ proves it we will follow.
  8. Functional leaders breathe a sigh of relief and invest even more in industrial age systems and training. The illusion of doing something, in this case, is actually worse than doing nothing.
  9. The businesses failure is noted by customers who move to those who do understand and deliver Customer Experience success.
  10. The company becomes another footnote in the history books. Talked about at business schools and picked apart because of the failure to get the new Outside-In customer-centric mindset.

Making Customer Experience Successful everywhere all the time

This isn’t rocket science (unless you are NASA of course). Understanding that the structures and ways of working from the industrial age were NEVER designed to be customer-centric. They were established to make things faster by optimizing production lines.

And oh, don’t think because you are not in manufacturing you are OK. It is likely your complete ways of working will be making everything look like production management systems, with talk of leaning out, waste reduction, standardization, efficiency, productivity. Sound familiar?

Understanding this Customer Experience misalignment is fundamental.

I encourage doing three things before re-joining the CX road-march:

  1. Understand how big the gap is between what you are doing and what Successful Customer Outcomes you need to be delivering.
  2. Audit the current key performance indicators.
    Are they mostly about outputs?
    Usually, the balance will be 80% output metrics (like calls answered, Average Handle Times, Abandoned Rates, Projects completed on time to budget etc.).
    Meanwhile, the really important measures that tell you a Successful Customer Outcome is being achieved will only be a small proportion.
    What you measure is what you get and no amount of Customer Experience drum banging will work unless those measures of Outcomes become the most important.
  3. Create an awareness of what real CX success is all about.
    This isn’t just the stories. It is about the actual things on the ground that need to change. The WHY and the HOW go hand in hand. Often times upskilling a group of key players at all levels to make them Ambassadors for the Customer achieves way more than massive corporate investment in branding and image.

In conclusion, Customer Experience cannot be treated just like another corporate initiative. To achieve success requires a significant shift in mindsets, and when that is achieved the realignment of the Enterprise to Outside-In can really begin.

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The Science of the Customer Experience

The new site featuring Customer Experience has gone live:

You can access and download the resources that will provide an overview of the value of becoming scientific about the Customer Experience. Meanwhile Customer Experience Mapping gets a kick in the pants as we integrate ABACUS (the BPGroup toolkit) to demonstrate a generic process across several channels.

Part 1 of 4: There are four distinctly Outside-In ways that you can rethink process and in doing so achieve Triple Crown benefits.

I explore these more thoroughly in the book Outside In however for now let’s take them in bite sized chunks.
•     Understand and applying Process diagnostics
•    Identify and aligning to Successful Customer Outcomes
•    Reframe where the process starts and ends
•    Rethink the business you are in

Let’s start with…
1. Understand and applying Process diagnostics:
(These will be familiar to CPP people however a refresher is always nice)
Earlier we have mentioned Moments of Truth, those all important interactions with customers. Let’s take that discussion further and include other closely related techniques for uncovering the real nature of process – breakpoints and business rules.

Firstly Moments of Truth (MOT) were first identified by Swedish management guru Richard Normann (1946-2003) in his doctoral thesis “Management and Statesmanship” (1975).
In 1989 Jan Carlson, the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) immortalized the phrase with his book ‘Moments of Truth’. He clearly linked all customer interaction as the Causes of Work for the airline and set about eradicating non value added MOT’s and then improving those he couldn’t remove. 
a)    Moments of Truth are a Process Diagnostic
b)    They occur ANYWHERE a customer “touches” a process
c)    They can be people-to-people, people-to-system, systems-to-people, system-to-system, and people-to-product
d)    ANY interaction with a customer is a Moment of Truth
e)    Moments of Truth are both process Points of Failure and Causes of Work

Carlson transformed the fortunes of SAS with this straightforward insight – all work in our organisations is ultimately caused by the Moment of Truth. Fix them and you fix everything else.
All Moments of Truth should be eradicated and those remaining improved. In doing so the customer experience is improved, costs are reduced and productivity maximised.

Next let’s review Breakpoints. Breakpoints (BP’s) are the direct consequence of MOT’s and are all the internal interactions that take place as we manage the processes caused by the customer interactions. 
a) Any place that a hand-off occurs in the process is a Break Point
b) Break Points can be person to person, person to system, system to person or system to system
c) Break Points are both process Points of Failure and Causes of Work

By identifying BP’s we can set about uncovering actions that would in turn remove them, or if not improve them. BP’s are especially evident were internal customer supplier relationships have been established say between Information Systems departments and Operations. Empirical research suggests that for every Moment of Truth there are an average of 3 to 4 Breakpoints. In other words a process with ten MOT’s will typically yield 30-40 Breakpoints.
All Breakpoints should be eradicated and if not at the very least improved. In doing so we get more done with less, red tape is reduced, control improves and the cost of work comes down.

The third in our triad of useful Outside-In techniques is Business Rules.
Business Rules are points within a process where decisions are made.
a)    Some Business Rules are obvious while others must be “found”
b)    Business Rules can be operational, strategic or regulatory and they can be system-based or manual
c)    Business Rules control the “behavior” of the process and shape the “experience” of those who touch it
d)    Business Rules are highly prone to obsolescence
e)    We must find and make explicit the Business Rules in the process

Business Rules (BR’s) are especially pernicious in that they are created for specific reasons however over time their origin is forgotten but their effect remains. For instance one Life insurance company had a delay of eight days before issuing a policy once all the initial underwriting work was complete. This has a serious impact on competitiveness as newcomers were able to issue policies in days rather than weeks. After some investigation it was discovered that the ‘8 day storage’ rule was related to the length of time it takes ink to dry on parchment paper. This rule hadn’t surfaced until the customer expectations changed. There are many examples of previously useful rules evading 21st century logic and blocking the achievement of successful customer outcomes. All Business Rules should be made explicit and challenged in todays context.

LinkedIn: Twitter:

Next time we’ll take a look at the second way to radically redefine process:

  • Identify and aligning to Successful Customer Outcomes

First Steps into Outside-In Thinking Part 4a) – The Successful Customer Outcome

There are a number of key supporting themes – the first is “Exclusive focus on Successful Customer Outcome (SCO)”

The approach, distilled from global leading companies, is Customer Expectation Management

Method (CEMMethod), has a set of principles and philosophy that ensures everything you do is aligned to and improves the SCO. CEMM helps an organization bring their processes, systems, strategy and people into ‘outside-in’ alignment.

Every company in business will have an SCO to a degree – they have to otherwise customers would not buy. OI is built on the philosophy that the better a company impacts its SCO the greater proportion of available business its going to win as a result. Further applying the thinking takes you to places (ie business opportunities) that competition has never been able to exploit and perhaps never thought about.

Apple are producing apps that people never thought they needed whereas Nokia who have built what they believe is technology superiority has had to re-think their approach to business amidst falling revenues and margins. Southwest are close to the era of the free flight ticket and enjoying consistent profitability whereas British Airways are going through possibly the worst business fortunes in its history.

OI is designed on the premise if a process or operation does NOT contribute to the Successful Customer Outcome – you don’t do it! On first analysis this may appear difficult to rationalise – most organisations have non-customer facing departments – how can the principle of the SCO still apply?

If you think about it, an airline is a business which are made up of the same commodity components – similar aeroplanes, customers with roughly the same wants/needs, airports with the ability to offer the same services (if they choose) – yet some operators are flying high and others are sinking towards government bailout or bankruptcy. Both SouthWest and BA will claim customer centricity but OI defines the important outcome components that are critical to business success and under this lens it becomes very clear that BA is left wanting.

First Steps into Outside-In Thinking Part 3 – What is OI in the context of the BP Group?

1. Outside-In is a philosophy and method of managing an organisation by understanding and

delivering Successful Customer Outcomes.

2. Outside-In Process optimizes value-delivery to customers. By fusing customer-driven process with customer-centric strategies, O-I creates successful customer outcomes (SCOs) – the foundation for achieving sustainable growth and profitability in an increasingly buyer-driven marketplace.(Customer ProcessOne Council, May 2010)

There are many accreditations in the process space. This BP Group community is sponsored by which in turn advocates the Certified Process Professional qualification ( ).

There are five levels of recognition:
• Certified Process Practitioner (CPP-Practitioner)
• Certified Process Professional (CPP-Professional)
• Certified Process Master (CPP-Master)
• Certified Process Advanced Master (CPP-AdvMaster) 

• Certified Process Champion (CPP-Champion) 


A significant part of that hands-on learning is focused on Outside-In and includes discussion of various methods such as CEMMethod

There is a rapidly developing cadre of people and organisations delivering Outside-In training, consultancy and advisory services with case studies, presentations and podcasts at

The Annual BP Group conferences have a strong flavour of Outside-In with notable organisations who are the pioneers of Outside-In present and delivering case studies, tutorials and workshops. Not least of which is Steve Towers book – Outside-In,
now in its fifth edition ( )

First Steps into Outside-In Thinking Part 1 – The Challenge

First published by the BP Group 3 years ago here’s some of the mindset behind Outside In.

If we consider the challenges of succeeding in business in the 21st century, most major companies would come up with a similar list:

When they talk about their customers

> Competition is fierce, global and increasing.
> Customers have become rebellious, they realise they have the right to alternatives and they frequently exercise that right.
> Customers have high expectations, they demand more and unless that demand is met they will go elsewhere.
> Customers demand choice, comprehensive information and the best price.

When they talk about their operations
> Operations, structures and business flows are becoming ever more complex
> The process of change is becoming ever more complex as the obvious improvements are delivered and the focus is on looking for new improvements often with diminishing returns
> A significant proportion of change projects under-perform and do not achieve the desired outcome
> There are so many alternative methods to effecting change out there it is difficult to select which one makes most sense for my business

When they talk about their overall business performance

> I fundamentally believe I offer a superior product and/or service but I’m still struggling to make the returns I believe possible
> I strive to be a market leader, I believe we have the capability to be a market leader but the issues above prevent me from getting there
> It is difficult to markedly cut my costs without impacting my service levels
> The impact of the global recession has affected my business and our fortunes won’t markedly improve until the business environment improves.

There may be additional comments however this is typical of observations from companies all over the world. And it is getting worse.

It isn’t though we don’t have choice in improvement approaches. As of 2010 there were over 6000 improvement methodologies all geared to helping organisations improve performance. How do you decide which one works best? How do you ensure sustained business improvement when the average CEO in the 21st century lasts 3 years and each new regime brings fresh ideas but a lot of the same issues?

See more of the thinking, practice and qualify as a Certified Process Professional (CPP)

PEX and BP Group Certified Process Professional (CPP) May 2-3, London

Just around the corner is PEX Europe in two weeks time.

In association with IQPC and the PEX network we are running a two day Certified Process Programme (CPP). Now in its 7th year the CPP qualification has spread far and wide with more than 25,000 certified across 92 countries. Places are in high demand so if you would like to attend book here and the PEX team will help get you in the room on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd May.

Upcoming BP Group Certified Process Professional (CPP) opportunities

Thinking about investing in your future? Needing to extend your Professional scope?
Here’s the next 20+ Open classes delivered by the BP Group and the Certified Process Professional (CPP) program:

Country Event Starts Level Duration (days)
USA San Francisco, USA, CPP Professional®, Masters® April 2013 Apr 8, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
India Kolkata Certified Process Professional Masters®, April 2013 Apr 8, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Canada TORONTO, Canada BP Group CPP Professional®, CPP Masters®, April 2013 Apr 8, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
USA Chicago, USA, CPP Professional®, Masters® April 2013 Apr 15, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
USA Atlanta USA, CPP Professional®, Masters® April 2013 Apr 22, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Kenya Nairobi, Kenya – CPP Professional®, Masters® April 2013 Apr 22, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Australia SYDNEY – Advanced Masters® & CPP Champion®, 22 April 2013 Apr 22, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
India PUNE Certified Process Professional Masters®, April 2013 Apr 22, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
USA NEW YORK CPP Professional®, Masters® April 2013 Apr 29, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
South Africa CAPE TOWN, CPP Professional®, Masters® May 2013 May 6, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
South America Sao Paulo, Brazil – CPP Professional®, Masters® May 2013 May 13, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
China Beijing, China CPP Professional®, Masters® May 2013 May 20, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur CPP Professional®, Masters® MAY 2013 May 20, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
South America Buenos Aires – CPP Professional®, Masters® May 2013 May 20, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
China Hong Kong, China CPP Professional®, Masters® May 2013 May 27, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
UK LONDON, UK CPP Professional®, Masters® June 2013 Jun 3, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
UAE DUBAI, UAE CPP Professional® & CPP Masters® & CPP Champion®, June 2013 Jun 16, 2013 6-7-8 4
Australia Brisbane CPP Professional® & CPP Masters®, July 2013 Jul 29, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Australia SYDNEY, CPP Professional®, Masters®, August 2013 Aug 5, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Singapore Singapore CPP Professional®, Masters® September 2013 Sep 2, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur CPP Professional®, Masters® Sept 2013 Sep 9, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Philipines Jakarta CPP Professional®, Masters® September 2013 Sep 16, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
Australia BRISBANE CPP Advanced Masters® & CPP Champion®, September 2013 Sep 16, 2013 6-7-8 4
Japan TOKYO CPP Professional®, Masters® September 2013 Sep 23, 2013 1-2-3-4-5 5
South Africa CAPE TOWN, CPP Advanced Masters® & CPP Champion®, 23-26 September 2013 Sep 23, 2013 6-7-8 4

Successful Customer Outcomes Posting Five

            What does a completed SCO Map look like? Here is one example:
If you understand SCO Maps in their original 2006 form you will also notice the improvedcapacity for iteration. In fact mature Outside In organizations will have undertaken two or perhaps three cycles of analysis to arrive at a completed understanding of customer needs.
In this example the one liner is “Improving Quality of Life”.
So circle back and prepare your own SCO Map (we also call the iterative diagram a SCO Revolution to explain the need for further refinement beyond the first cut).
Test it with colleagues and don’t be surprised if you find your understanding of customers needs is totally transformed for the better.

Successful Customer Outcomes Posting Four

5. And now we are ready to establish the real Successful Customer Outcome (SCO) as a set of statements of intent with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) objectives. There is no room for management weasel words such as fast, efficient, effective, timely and the like. Here we get specific and develop metrics that will tell us how well we are delivering the SCO. Having identified the Statements of Intent and the associated measures we are ready to summarize the complete SCO Map.

What is the one liner that describes this SCO?

6. The one liner may even sometimes be summarized as one word. Also we are now bordering on the territory of Strategy as the articulation of the SCO Map should link directly with the organization Mission and Vision. In mature Outside In organizations the SCO Maps link with customer categories and we develop a clear line of sight from every single task and activity right through to the organization objectives. That line of sight is a tangible and objective linkage that confirms everything we are doing is aligned with corporate goals and objectives.