The Best Chief Technology Officer

How to Make Your Business Process Customer Focused

How to Make Your Business Process Customer Focused

Everyone knows that the customer is king, and that business processes should deliver what customers want. But how do you do that?

The 10 steps to business process improvement can help keep the focus on the customer or client. It starts with developing the scope definition (step 2) where you identify the customer and what they want from your business process. The customer is someone external to your company who pays for your goods or services; the client is your internal customer if you work as an internal consultant within your company. Employees have an easy time identifying the external customer, but have a harder time identifying the client because they have become so accustomed to working to please their boss. After all, the boss rewards your performance and controls your salary increases. Your boss though is not your client!

Another way to keep the customer/client at the forefront is to notice, as you draw the process map in step 3, how often (or more likely, how infrequently) the activities in your process touch the customer. Then as you work to improve the business process (step 6), check each activity to determine if it adds value to the customer. If it does not add value, eliminate the activity. Ask yourself if the customer would pay for a particular step in the process if they knew it existed. This will force you to think about the steps in your process from the customer’s perspective and, since every activity contributes to cycle time (step 4), you should streamline the process as much as possible. You can also think of cycle time as elapsed time or the overall time it takes from the first step in the process to the last step, including waiting time. Cycle time is what customers “see,” and they always want it as short as possible.

Include the customer needs as you develop metrics (step 7) to measure the effectiveness of your business process. Ask them if you are measuring what they care about. You might not be! Adapt your metrics to focus on what is most important to your customers.

When you develop your continuous improvement plan (step 10), remember to think about how often you will revisit the customer needs, e.g., every 6 months, 12 months, etc. Make certain that you follow the schedule you put in place.

You can see how easy it is to keep the customer in mind. I already covered how to include them in six of the ten steps to business process improvement.

Copyright 2010 Susan Page