Many attempts to improve customer service are variations of “the operation was a success but the patient died.” Customer service improvements and measurements often focus on a narrow set of customer interactions or a few steps in the service process. What’s missing is understanding and improving the customer’s entire experience.

“The Truth About Customer Experience” in the September issue of Harvard Business Review provides recent research and examples. The authors show that organizations who move beyond focusing mainly on “touchpoints” to “the customer’s end-to-end journey” have 30 – 40% higher customer satisfaction and higher revenues, repeat business, positive word-of-mouth, and higher customer retention.

The article is structured around 4 steps they’ve found top organizations use to improve the customer journey:

  1. Identify the journeys in which they need to excel
  2. Understand how they are currently performing in each
  3. Build cross-functional processes to redesign and support those journeys
  4. Institute cultural change and continuous improvement to sustain the initiatives at scale

The article concludes with this key point:

“Optimizing a single customer journey is tactical; shifting organizational processes, culture, and mind-sets to a journey orientation is strategic and transformational…engages the organization across functions and from top to bottom, generating excitement, innovation, and a focus on continuous improvement. It creates a culture that’s hard to build otherwise, and a true competitive advantage goes to companies that get it right.”

This aligns with our experience around Leading a Customer-Centered Organization. If improving customer service is a key focus for your team or organization click on The Three Rings of Perceived Value: An Integrated Customer Focus for an overview of a model used by dozens of leading organizations. There you’ll also find a “Quickie Service/Quality Quiz” that provides 4 core questions to start mapping your customer’s overall experience.

For over 30 years, Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. He has delivered thousands of keynote presentations, workshops, and management team retreats to hundreds of organizations around the globe moving his audiences from inspiration to application. He’s listed in the World’s Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus based on research with 22,000 global business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. His website is

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