Customer Needs Map

Teams often try to improve or construct everything from scratch when it’s only one or two facets of a process that have the potential of making a significant difference from the eyes of the customer. This tool will help you figure out which are the most important processes to create or improve. The other major benefit of this tool is to help create a mind set shift by a group of people who regularly interface with the customer, but have never really thought about their impact on the customer as they do their day-to-day job.

This is one of the most valuable tools and one of the more complicated ones. Getting professional guidance the first few times you use it is helpful.



  1. Identify key internal and external customers. For each of the key customers, list their critical needs and give each need an “importance rating” from 1 to 5 (1 – least important …. 5 – most important). These items are entered along the left side of the matrix.
  2. Identify the key processes or facets of the process associated with the project. List the key processes across the top of the matrix.
  3. For each square in the center of the matrix, discuss how much of an impact the process (column item) has on satisfying the need (row item). Give the square a rating (H – high, M – medium, L – low, or leave blank) depending on the sensitivity of the customer need to the execution of the process.
  4. Add up the scores: let H = 9, M = 3, L = 1. Calculate the score for each of the squares in the center of the matrix by multiplying the importance rating of that row (1 – 5) with the score in the box — H(9), M(3), L(1), blank(0). Then add the numbers in each column.
  5. Discuss the results. The columns with the highest scores indicate processes that have a lot of impact on satisfying the needs of the customer (or upsetting the customer if done poorly). These processes should probably be worked on first. Also pay attention to those processes with the lowest scores — Make sure they are streamlined to the maximum (or eliminated) as they don’t have much impact on the customer. If a row has nothing in it, there may be a need that is not currently being satisfied.

Other notes and tips:

  • When identifying the customer needs, try to limit them to the most important 10 needs. The same thing goes for the number of processes across the top row. Otherwise the center grid will take too long to fill in.
  • Don’t get hung up on whether a center grid item is high, medium, or low. This is a “quick and crude” tool. In the end after the scoring is completed, it won’t make much difference on the overall conclusions.
  • When discussing the final scores (bottom row), don’t worry about exact differences in the final scores. Focus on those 1 – 3 items that have significantly higher scores than the rest of the items.
  • For determining the customer needs and importance ratings, take your best guesses. It’s useful to validate your guesses with customers. Don’t be surprised when your customer responses vary widely.
  • Sometimes team members have difficulty understanding what key processes are. Typically, if you use verbs to describe these items, you will find yourself on the right track.
  • At times, team members get hung up on using the 9, 3, 1 scores for high, medium, low, respectively. These numbers were selected to have a wider variation in final scores (bottom row of the matrix) and is based on the Pareto principle.
  • For a 10 x 10 grid size, you’ll need to allow the team 75 – 90 minutes to construct, complete, score, and discuss the customer needs map.
  • A variation of this tool is to have options across the top of the chart instead of processes. This will help determine which of numerous option will provide the best result from the customers perspective.