How to Map a Process Using Free Tools

Processes (or procedures) are a series of steps taken to accomplish a specific end. They can be standalone, interconnected or be part of something bigger (e.g., governance). They can be Business Processes, Information Technology (IT) processes, Systems Processes and Business Processes within IT. In organizations, there are many processes that happen sequentially and/or in parallel with other processes.

Basically, the idea of representing a process (or procedure) through a map (or diagram) is so that people can visually see what is happening. This visual representation also helps in identifying what can be improved within (and sometimes outside) the organization. Since the purpose of these maps is to convey what is going, you have to be cognizant that these maps should (1) be simple to understand, (2) help your audience connect with what they do daily to the big picture of the organization and (3) serve as a guide to what is (currently) happening and what would happen (tomorrow).

There are many ways and tools to depict a process but I have found that for most audiences the basic form of Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) works best to just get the conversation started. In regards to a free tool to draw a process, draw.io can be used which saves your process maps in your google drive or any other location that you specify.

The following is just a simplified example to illustrate how a customer may interact with Amazon.com and how this customer interaction is handled. As you would see that visually representing this process can open up a door to start a discussion for improvements. If this whole process was written and not visually represented then it would require a lot of wording and the danger that the audience might get bored or would lose interest.

Amazon Customer Process
Amazon Customer Process

Note that the process map:

  1. Has numbered rectangular activity boxes so that your audience can easily follow
  2. Numbered rectangular activity boxed need does not need to be in sequence
  3. Is a hybrid which shows the interaction between a human (customer) and Amazon.com (online system)
  4. Uses BPMN basics to convey a story

To start the process of creating a process map, it would be prudent to ask these questions. Keep in mind that the purpose of mapping a process is not to show how talented you are in creating complex process maps but rather as a starting point and even a collaboration point where you can actually provide these maps to the audience to “fix”. Lastly, have a repository to save these process maps so that they can be used a reference of (1) what is happening, (2) what should not happen and (3) what could happen.

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5 Questions to Ask About Customer Experiences

According to Forrester®, “to be truly competitive your company must become customer-obsessed; you need to have deep knowledge of and engagement with your customers.” The need for the organization to be obsessed with the customer revolves around data and engagement. Data-level obsession encompasses collecting as much information as you can about the customer so that the unique needs (e.g., Amazon buying preferences, Facebook habits, and likes, etc.) of the customers can be met. This information can be gathered directly from the customer (e.g., surveys, account signups, etc.) and/or can be obtained by analyzing trends (e.g., census data, inventory depletion data, etc.) Engagement-level obsession encompasses providing services to the customer that can be person-to-person (e.g., customer service, social media, etc.) and/or can be person-to-technology (e.g., corporate website, kiosks, etc.). As technology becomes commonplace and continues to get cheaper, more and more organizations are moving towards combining their data and engagement obsessions to provide a seamless experience for the customers. Customers are becoming smarter and while at one point price was one of the major factors of customer decision-making but now the quality of products and services is becoming very important.

For organizations, customer experience revolves around maximizing the potential of its people, processes, and technologies. From this perspective, customer experience is not only about the customer but also about the organization as a whole. Thus, in order to understand the holistic nature of customer experiences, organizations need to assess the current customer experiences and determine what future customer experiences should entail. This starts by asking the following questions:

TodayTomorrow
Who serves your customers?Who should serve your customers?
What avenues are being used to make the life of customers easier?What avenues should be used to make the life of the customers easier?
Where do customers experience your organization?Where should customers experience your organization?
When do customers engage with your organization?When should you be available for the customers based on their needs?
Why customer experience matters?Why customer experience is becoming the next currency?

When you are asking the above questions, keep in mind that organizations that know how to leverage its people, processes, and technologies and who are open to exploring new paradigms of customer experience would be far ahead of the game. These organizations are not only obsessed about customer experience but create executable strategies that enhance the experience for internal and external customers.

In conclusion, customer experience is more than just external-facing activities. Customer experience is about trust; trust that you would have the most competent people for representing your organization; trust that your business processes are as efficient as they can be; trust that you would use technologies to enhance and not exploit the lives of customers; trust that you would provide the best products and services to your customers; trust that you would safeguard customer information with the utmost security and privacy; trust that you would be professional even when customers have decided to leave your organization for your competitors and trust that you would not monopolize customers’ choices even if yours is the only a handful of organizations who can serve these customers.

Holistic Customer Experiences
Holistic Customer Experiences

References:

  1. Winning in the Age of the Customer
  2. 5 Factors for Business Transformation

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