Service Blueprinting

Companies that outmaneuver their competitors by providing new or improved services to customers keep their service development process from being “ad hoc.” These customer-focused companies tend to move with specific intent through a set of planned stages of service innovation. Typically, these stages involve establishing clear objectives, idea generation, concept development, service design, prototyping, launch, and customer feedback.

This column continues our discussion of Service Blueprinting, a technique that supports several of these steps. As a visualization tool, Service Blueprinting will generate new service ideas and identify gaps in current service quality that are impacting customer loyalty.

Blueprint Components

There are five components of a service blueprint. Our example shows a simple blueprint for a one-night stay in a hotel. They are:

•  Customer actions. This include all the steps a customer takes during the service delivery process. In a Service Blueprint, customer actions are usually depicted in sequence, from start to finish. Customer actions are central to the Service Blueprint, so they are described first.

•  The onstage visible actions taken by employees. Onstage visible actions by employees are the face-to-face contacts with the customer during the service delivery. These are separated from the customer by the line of interaction. Service delivery actions by frontline customer contact employees are shown here. Each time the line of interaction is crossed through an interaction between a customer and contact employee (or self service technology), a moment of truth occurs. During these moments of truth, customers judge your quality and make decisions regarding future purchases.

•  Backstage actions taken by employees that are not visible to the customer. The next part of the Service Blueprint is the “backstage” invisible actions of employees that impact customers. Actions here are separated from onstage service delivery by the line of visibility. Everything above the line of visibility is seen by the customer while everything below it is invisible. In our hotel example, these actions included taking the food order (accurately) and preparing a quality meal.

•  Company support processes used throughout the service delivery. The fourth critical component of a Service Blueprint is the “support processes” that customer contact employees rely on to effectively interact with the customer. These processes are all the activities contributed by employees within the company who typically don’t contact customers. These need to happen, however, to deliver the service. Clearly, service quality is often impacted by these below-the-line of interaction activities.

•  Physical evidence of the service. Finally, for each customer moment of truth the physical evidence of the service delivery at each point of customer contact is recorded at the top of the blueprint.

Vertical lines are drawn on the blueprint to show how various activities and processes interact to deliver the service to the customer.

Building The Blueprint

Now that you have a basic understanding of the parts of a Service Blueprint, and what one looks like, think about developing a blueprint for a precision agriculture service for your business. The first step will be to define all the steps in delivering the service you want to blueprint. If you are trying to differentiate your service offering to different customer segments, it will be helpful to blueprint each approach. Once you have chosen the service you want to blueprint, all the customer actions involved in the service are placed on the blueprint in the Customer Actions section.

Getting this done in sufficient detail may be challenging because most of us have never broken services into their individual parts. But I guarantee the effort is worth it. Part of the challenge will be deciding where the service starts and stops from the customer point of view. Once the customer actions are determined, the onstage and backstage actions of contact employees can be placed on the blueprint. Then identify the supporting processes that employee actions draw on and put these on the blueprint, too. Now link up each customer action to the onstage and backstage employee actions and support processes. I suggest you complete the physical evidence section last.

My example of a hotel stay blueprint shows only the basic steps in the customer experience. An overview blueprint like this is a good place to start, but you will likely need to add more detail at key steps where you suspect improvement could occur. Blueprinting is a very flexible tool, and you can add additional detail as you identify potential shortfalls and hopefully moments of delight in the delivery of the service. Remember — you want to capture the end-to-end customer service experience from the customer’s point of view in the blueprint.

Thinking about the precision agriculture service you selected, who are the onstage employees that deliver the service? No doubt there are several, from sales agronomists who consult with the customer to your office staff who schedule the service to applicators who drive equipment in the customer’s field. What are the behind-the-scenes processes they rely on to deliver a memorable experience to the customer? Where can gaps occur that prevent a smooth trouble-free experience? Are there places that appear to meet customer needs, but could still be improved anyway to begin exceeding needs?

Service blueprinting will identify areas where a service could be refined. If you introduced new elements into the service delivery, would that create more customer satisfaction and help you differentiate yourself from competitors?

We will return to Service Blueprinting in future columns because this customer-focused business tool can help you grow your business. Putting your service delivery under a microscope can help you increase customer satisfaction and increase loyalty. Service blueprinting will also help you differentiate yourself from competitors.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Service Blueprinting

Management Stories

ManagementARA 2016 Report and Crop Mix for 2017
December 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting and the projected acreage mix for Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Corp. CEO interview
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Trending Articles
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Latest News
ManagementARA 2016 Report and Crop Mix for 2017
December 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting and the projected acreage mix for Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In …
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Ryan Bartlett
Crop InputsCompass Minerals Appoints Vice President, Innovation An…
December 8, 2016
Ryan Bartlett, Ph.D., has joined Compass Minerals as vice president, innovation and product development. Dr. Bartlett will be responsible for Read More
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More