Service Process Blueprint

The service blueprinting concept was originally conceived over twenty years ago by a bank executive, Lynn Shostack, who published a paper on the rudiments of the approach in the Harvard Business Review. In the intervening years the technique has evolved significantly. Service blueprints could be described as service roadmaps -- tangible, visual documents that lay out where and how customers and companies interact. More specifically, blueprints are information-laden documents made up of five components that, when drawn up together, can help make customer-company relationship and the customer experience crystal clear.

* Customer actions include "all of the steps that customers take as part of the service delivery process."
* Onstage/visible contact employee actions are the actions of frontline contact employees that occur as part of a face-to-face encounter with customers.
* Backstage/visible contact employee actions are non-visible interactions with customers, such as telephone calls, as well as other activities employees undertake in order to prepare to serve customers or that are part of their role responsibilities.
* Support processes are all activities carried out by individuals in a company who are not contact employees, but whose functions are crucial to the carrying out of services processes.
* Physical evidence represents all of the tangibles that customers are exposed or collect to during their contact with a company.

It may sound complicated, but it's not: Essentially, when companies create services blueprints, they are mapping out all the various interactions and actions that occur when customer and company meet.

The authors suggest that companies attempting to create these blueprints first identify the specific service process to be explored, and also identify the customers that specific service process targets. From there, the blueprint can be built -- starting with customer actions, as these serve "as the foundation for all other elements of the blueprint" -- step by step, until a more complete picture of the process, and its various elements, is built. Good blueprints often require contributions from across the organization, including, sometimes, customers.

Blueprint example

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