This post discusses the circumstances when you might want to use customer journey maps instead of (or in conjunction with) process maps.
My experience is that managers and executives are generally much more familiar with process maps than with customer journey maps. This is not always a good thing, as process maps are useful in many circumstances, but very inward-focused. Sometimes, process maps encourage thinking that puts internal processes ahead of the customer experience.
What is the Difference Between Process Maps and Customer Journey Maps ?
Although they both use the word “map”, process maps and customer journey maps are very different tools, looking at the company from very different perspectives.
As shown by Table 1, a process map takes the company’s perspective, describing a company’s internal processes using terms, typically jargon and acronyms specific to the company. Process maps are often developed by specialists (including those with Six Sigma experience) or by specific departments.
By contrast, the Customer Journey Map takes the customer’s perspective, describing the customer experience using the customer’s own language. In our experience, the Customer Journey Map is created by many or all groups involved in the customer experience. (It almost has to be, because the input is necessary to fully understand the customer experience.)
Table 1: Differences between Process Maps and Customer Journey Maps
The Problem with Using Process Maps Instead of Customer Journey Maps
There are many circumstances when process maps are helpful, particularly when a company needs to improve internal flows and processes that support the customer experience. However, too few companies use Customer Journey Maps, which offer the key benefit of taking the customer’s perspective, and mapping out the customer experience from the customer’s point of view. In other words, process maps start inward and look out of the company, while customer journey maps start outward and look inward at the company.
In many companies and many circumstances, the ability to look at the company outside-in, from the customer’s perspective, is a powerful yet under used tool. In these cases, if we use a process map instead of a customer journey map, the processes may be optimized from the company’s perspective, but not from the customer’s perspective.
Another powerful combination is to create these two types of maps in tandem, so that the internal perspective that arises from the process map is developed in conjunction with an understanding of the customer journey.
Want to learn more? Download our white paper on Customer Journey Maps or contact us today.
Dr. Bruce Isaacson
MMR Strategy Group