The Difference Between a Process Map and a Customer Journey Map

Posted by Kristin Arnold on January 10, 2017

shutterstock_277372325I was talking to a client this past week about my last blog posting and she asked, “So what’s the difference between a process map and a customer journey map?”  A great question, indeed as they are really two sides of the same coin:

The process map is a producer-centric diagram that documents the flow of work from a defined beginning point to an end point – from the company/organization’s point of view.  As I mentioned last week, the SIPOC is a powerful tool to document this flow and to improve the process – make it more efficient and effective -not just for the producer, but also for all of the stakeholders involved.

The customer journey map is a customer-centric diagram that documents all of the touchpoints where the customer interacts with the company/organization.  This customer journey map allows the producer to elevate the customer experience in alignment with their strategy and brand.

You can see how they are both important, and impact each other.

But here’s where it gets interesting.  My client then asked, “So where do you start?”  The simple answer is it depends.

It depends on your strategy.  As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the book, The Discipline of Market Leaders (it’s an oldie, but a goodie).  If you have a customer-intimate/total solution strategy, then I would start with the customer journey map. If you are leading with operational excellence, I would start with the process map.  Product innovation is a toss-up. Please realize, you need to meet the minimum threshold requirements of all three disciplines (customer intimate, operational excellence and product innovation) to be successful, no less LEAD the market.

Yet, in this increasingly commoditized world, the customer experience is proving to be a more and more powerful differentiator in the marketplace, so you really should map the process AND the journey – and let the results of both help you lead the market.

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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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