The Purpose of Business is to Create Customers

According to management guru, Peter Drucker, the purpose of business is not to maximize profit but rather “to create a customer*.” Businesses competing for the same customer set themselves apart by delivering a consistent customer experience that adds value.

Do your employees share a vision of the desired customer experience? Does it add value? Is it delivered consistently? Are you sure about that?

One way to define the existing customer experience is to trace an order from receipt to delivery using the following six-steps. Improvements made to this “end-to-end process” will increase referrals, return customers, and revenue.

Six Steps that Define the Customer Experience

Step 1: Begin at the Beginning
• Get a package of large sticky notes.
• Beginning with “Order the product or service,” list every step required to convert that order into the deliverable. Write each step on a separate sticky note leaving a blank space along the bottom.

Step 2: Construct the Workflow
• Hang a long sheet of butcher paper horizontally on the wall.
• Leave about one foot of blank space on the left margin of the butcher paper and six inches of blank space across the top.
• Beginning on the left side of the butcher paper, place the sticky notes in order horizontally so that step one is on the left and the last step is on the right.

Order Widget Enter Order into OMS Check Credit Pic and Pack Widget Ship Widget

Step 3: Identify the Handoffs in the Workflow
• Steps are completed by one job role and then there is a “handoff” to another job role. You want to see where these occur.
• In pencil, write the job role responsible for completing the step on the bottom of each sticky note. You may find that the same person handles the order several times throughout the process.
• Now go to the far left side of the butcher paper and write “Customer” in the top left-hand corner of the butcher paper.
• List each job role vertically on the left side of the butcher paper. Each job role will be listed only once. Try to list the job roles from top to bottom in the order in which they perform the steps of the process.
• Imagine an Olympic swimming pool and draw horizontal lines to create a “swimlane” for each job title.
• Move the sticky notes to group them into their respective job role swimlane while maintaing the horizontal flow of the steps.

Customer Order Widget
Sales Acknowledge Order Notify customer of ship date
Order Entry Enter Order into OMS
Finance Check Credit
Warehouse Pic and Pack


Shipping Ship Widget

Step 4: Capture the Time it takes to Complete each Step
• Write Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and so on horizontally across the top of your butcher paper so as to create columns.
• Adjust the steps in the process to fall into the day within which they begin. There may be gaps of several days between one step and the next.


Day 1

Day 2

Day 5

Day 6

Customer Order Widget
Sales Acknowledge Order Notify customer of ship date
Order Entry Enter Order into OMS
Finance Check


Warehouse Pic and Pack


Shipping Ship Widget

Step 5: Step Back and Analyze the Customer Experience
• Calculate the number of days it takes from Order to Delivery.
• Count the number of times the order is handed off from one employee to the next.
• Determine the points in the process where the customer is updated with information about their order.

Step 6: Have those who Perform the Work Validate the Process
• Take a picture of your process map or transcribe using your favorite software (Word, Powerpoint, Visio, Keynote, Pages…whatever you feel most comfortable using.)
• Gather a representative for each of the job titles listed and ask them to validate the process on the butcher paper explaining that you want them to correct any mistakes you have made.
• Provide blank sticky notes and pens so that they can add more steps if necessary. If they need to start over using a fresh sheet of butcher paper, so be it.
• If you are in a position of authority you may have to leave the room so that they can discuss the current process openly and honestly.

Once you have defined the current Customer Experience, you can identify opportunities for making work easier and making customers happier. It is recommended that you hire a performance improvement consultant to facilitate this aspect of the project. If you don’t have someone on staff to act in this role, give me a call. I can work with you at a reasonable cost using Go-to-Meeting or I can refer you to a facilitator in your area.

Dawn Papaila, CPT

* Drucker, P.F. (2001). The essential drucker. New York: Collins Business Essentials.

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