How to Use Service Blueprints to Improve Customer Experience
- Digital Strategy
A service blueprint is a tool that helps a team understand how the customer sees or experiences a business’s service process.
It enables a team to map all the interactions related to delivering a service and allows a company to explore all the issues inherent in creating or managing a service. A service blueprint is a great way of fully understanding the process related to a service.
By creating a map, you’ll discover a path to achieving business goals by solving real needs, removing redundancies and silos, and improving the employee and customer experience.
Blueprints are designed to reveal the multi-layered nature of how types of people and technologies either work together or—in some cases—don’t in a business setting. They pinpoint dependencies between employee-facing and customer-facing processes in the same visualization.
Think of service blueprints as part two to customer journey maps. It corresponds to a specific customer journey and the specific user goals associated with that journey. But service blueprints go several steps further and combine the customer’s experience with all employee actions and support processes that may or may not be visible to the customer.
Service blueprints should always align to a business goal: reducing redundancies, improving the employee experience, or converging siloed processes.
The strategic business benefits of a Service Blueprint
It gives an organization a comprehensive understanding of its service and the underlying resources and processes—seen and unseen to the user—that make it possible. Focusing on this larger understanding provides strategic benefits for the business.
- Service blueprints help businesses discover weaknesses. Poor user experiences often happen because of an internal organizational shortcoming—a weak link in the ecosystem. Blueprinting exposes the big picture and offers a map of dependencies.
- Blueprints help identify opportunities for optimization. The visualization of relationships in blueprints uncovers potential improvements and ways to eliminate redundancy.
- Encourages a rational approach to service design. Visibility-based mapping means common-sense decisions can be made about what customers should see and how employees will interact with customers.
- It helps you assess how much the business has invested in each process or touchpoint. By seeing which processes create duplicate services, teams can map out where revenue comes from and suggest efficiencies and cost-saving measures.
Blueprinting is most useful when coordinating complex services because it bridges cross-department efforts. Often, a department’s success is measured by the touchpoint it owns. However, users encounter many touchpoints throughout one journey and don’t know (or care) which department owns which touchpoint.
While a department could meet its goal, the big-picture, organization-level objectives may not be reached. Blueprinting forces businesses to capture what occurs internally throughout the totality of the customer journey—giving them insight into overlaps and dependencies that departments alone could not see.
How to create a Service Blueprint
There are four puzzle pieces you need to create a service blueprint.
The customer’s actions: If you’ve already made a customer journey map, you can extract the steps, choices, activities, and interactions a customer may go through to reach their goals.
Frontstage actions: These actions happen in front of the customer. They are usually either human-to-human (for example, a customer interacting with an employee at a cash register) or human-to-computer (for example, a customer dealing with an ATM transaction) interactions.
Backstage actions: Behind-the-scenes activities to support frontstage activities, which can either be carried by a backstage employee (a head chef in the kitchen) or a frontstage employee who completes a task not visible to the customer (printing out a bill before bringing it to the table).
Support processes: These are a series of steps and interactions that support employees in delivering a customer service.
Additionally, you need Physical evidence. This is proof that the interaction happened. Examples can include the product itself, receipts as proof of purchase, physical storefronts, or websites.
Service blueprints also tend to have three key lines:
- The line of interaction: direct interactions between the customer and the organization.
- The line of visibility: separates what’s visible and invisible to the customer. Everything visible is above the line; everything backstage is below the line.
- The line of internal interaction: separates employees who have direct customer contact from those who don’t directly support customer interactions.
1. Start with a customer scenario. Whether you’re mapping an existing process or creating one from scratch, it’s crucial to start with the customer service scenario that you’d like to investigate. Map out the experience in chronological order.
2. Build out the map. Once you have the customer’s journey mapped out, it’s time to build out the rest of the story. Layout the processes, actors, support systems, and technologies that exist behind the scenes.
3. Dive into roles and responsibilities. Specify lines of interaction, where the customer interacts with your service or employees; lines of visibility, where your organizational processes become invisible to the customer; and lines of internal action, where employees who don’t contact the customer nevertheless step into support the service.
4. Illustrate cross-functional relationships. Use arrows to illustrate relationships and dependencies that cross-cut various steps in the map.
Service Blueprint is one of the many tools Windmill uses as part of our digital product strategy services. With our help, you can accelerate your start-up’s growth strategy with confidence. Together we can rationalize objectives and create exciting web and mobile app concepts.