Customer experience is not just about customers.

Improving customer experience requires a focus on more than just customer needs. If we put the needs of customers before everything else, we ignore the needs of all the other people involved in the delivery of customer experience.

The aim of ‘putting the customer first’ can be misleading as it often prevents a business from focusing on the poor experiences of employees and partners. And without addressing these issues, putting the customer first is unlikely to deliver a sustainable improvement in customer experience.

It’s good to finally see some high-level acknowledgement that improving customer experience involves moving beyond touchpoints and focusing on journeys. But my question is this: why stop at customer journeys? If customer experience represents the entirety of a customer’s interactions with a business, then there is a clear need to realign every business function in support of customer experience.

Everyone’s experience matters

McKinsey’s advice for CEOs to redesign the business from the customer back is encouraging. But doing this requires a deep understanding of the context-specific problems and work-arounds of everyone involved.

Using customer journeys to redesign organisations will only ever provide us with a limited understanding of the complex cross-functional problems that impact on customer experience. This is why we need to extend the journey further into the organisation to not only reveal the root causes of these problems but also engage with those responsible for delivery.

People Experience Journeys extend the customer journey into a business

By analysing the needs and experiences of customers, employees and partners, people experience journeys bring to light all the tensions and weak links that create obstacles to seamless customer experience. In doing so, they also reveal invaluable local knowledge and work-arounds that employees have developed to get around legacy structures and systems. Take this example:


Delivering a sustainable improvement in customer experience requires an understanding of the needs and experiences of everyone involved in a product or process. Viewing customer experience through the customer’s eyes isn’t enough, we need a real-world, real-time assessment of experiences across the business. Only then can we isolate and systematically address each need and experience to improve the resulting outcome for the customer.

Achieving exceptional customer experience won’t come from simply putting the customer first. It will come from an authentic evaluation of the needs of everyone who’s work has an impact on the customer.