A service Blueprint is a technique, a diagram visualizing the relationships between the most important elements of the offered service.
It precisely defines and presents all the activities performed during its operation. It determines its course, stages, roles, tasks, goals, and tools simultaneously.
The advantage of Service Blueprint is the control of the process flow, the possibility of its optimization, and sensible design.
And even more importantly, Service Blueprint makes it possible to look at the process, the organization, and the employees from the customer's perspective.
The Service Blueprint allows you to see the customer experience that occurs during interaction with an organization. A distinguishing feature of Service Blueprint is a deeper understanding of these experiences.
It puts a strong emphasis on including elements whose existence and impact the customer is aware of, as well as those that constitute a kind of background for the company's operation. Factors that stand behind the services and processes in question.
The Service Diagram makes it possible to show what is happening in the dimension of the customer's activities and the dimension of the activities of the service provider's employees.
The diagram shows how these two layers depend on each other, how they interact, and what emotions, frustrations, and problems they generate.
Why is it important to use Service Blueprint?
First introduced back in the '80s, the Service Blueprint is an extension, an expansion of another tool – the Customer Journey Map.
Just a reminder that the Customer Journey Map visualizes all the interactions that occur between a customer and an organization.
Just for the sake of clarity, let's add that it is as much about offline interactions as it is about online ones.
The Service Blueprint adds more dimensions to this image and looks for connections between them. Equally, between the obvious ones and those that are overlooked or downplayed.
The use of Service Blueprint is recommended and finds application in:
- service optimization
- diagnosis of problems
- understanding the roles, tasks, and goals of the stakeholders involved in the service
- designing a new service
- defining the limits of service.
What is very important is that we can use this tool at any time in an organization's activity.
It can be used as a design tool before service implementation, or as a diagnostic and optimization tool, at the time of providing services.
It is worth remembering that services are usually complex processes, requiring the cooperation and participation of many people and departments.
They need efficient cooperation and coordination of activities of people of different specialties operating in different areas of competence, capabilities, and independence.
Services are also provided with the help of various tools; hence it is essential to coordinate, synchronize, and optimize all processes occurring simultaneously.
In addition, Service Blueprint makes it possible to distinguish and divide a complex process into smaller elements or stages.
And this makes it easier to optimize them, manage them, or see the problems they cause.
How to design services with the Service Blueprints?
Service design can apply to services already offered and those yet to be designed. In both variants, the pattern is similar.
The creation of a Service Blueprint requires, above all, the identification of the following:
- stakeholders involved in the process
- actions of customers
- actions of employees
- interactions between customers and employees, as well as between employees themselves (multi-dimensionally)
- physical evidence that is produced in the course of providing a service.
The concept of stakeholders involved in the process should be understood broadly and encompass all employees involved (directly or indirectly) in the service provision.
Customer activities include all activities performed by customers, including their choices.
The activities of employees, guided by the criteria of their visibility to the customer, can be divided into:
- frontstage (external, direct)
- backstage (behind the scenes).
Backstage activities are all activities, processes, and tools that influence direct actions.
The function of Service Blueprint is to divide processes into smaller components; hence the diagram distinguishes three main dividing lines:
- interaction line
- visibility line
- influence line.
The first line refers to direct interactions between the customer and the company's employees.
The second line separates direct and behind-the-scenes activities, while the third isolates employees who have direct contact with customers from those who do not interact with them.
Some variants of the Service Blueprint diagram take additionally into account:
- duration of the service execution and its various stages
- metrics (crucial indicators for measuring quality and satisfaction)
- customer and employee emotions
- graphic elements that convey meanings, senses, and information better than words (e.g., arrows)
- rules, regulations, and policies.
Arrows (one-way arrows and two-way arrows) indicate and define relationships and dependencies between elements. For example, a two-way arrow signifies the need to work out a consensus and the interdependence of elements.
Documents describing standards, ways of doing things, and rules are important in service optimization processes, which is why their inclusion in Service Blueprint diagrams is recommended.
They make it possible to determine what is and is not possible to change. In turn, indicators of success can be financial costs, time, and the number of activities performed.
Emotional reactions are important; they influence the customer's impressions and experiences and should be included in the Service Blueprint.
Advantages of using the Service Blueprint Technique
Service design allows an organization to look deeply, multi-dimensionally, from a specific perspective, with a concrete goal in mind at their:
- strengths and weaknesses that result in worse impressions, customer experience
- logic of operation and dependencies between elements.
In addition, Service Blueprint makes it possible to:
- improve processes, services
- make them tools for strategic competition
- improve the efficiency of work, operation
- personalize services
- make processes more consistent
- become aware of invisible, informal processes that affect service quality.
By mapping the service using the Service Diagram, we provide an organization with an opportunity to:
- increase the flexibility of operation
- scale services
- transfer knowledge and experience
- gain more profound insights with a broader scope
- find the causes of problems
- discovery pain points.
Service Blueprint. Summary
The Service Diagram has a vital role in the optimization of User Experience and Customer Experience. Gives insight into processes (external and internal), points of contact, and pain points.
It allows us to see the causes of poorer impressions, customer experiences not only in direct interactions between the customer and the service department but also in broader mechanisms.