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

Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improvement Is Possible In 5 Key Areas
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wait Continues
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
ManagementAg Land Values In Limbo In 2017
January 10, 2017
Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values. Randy Dickhut, senior vice Read More
ManagementThe Frontrunner for Ag Secretary and What to Watch in 2017
January 6, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the possible new Secretary of Ag and what trends they will be looking Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
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
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
Latest News
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More
AGCO Custom applicator
SprayersAGCO, Asmark Institute To Offer Training For Beginning …
January 11, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute are collaborating to offer a new training program dedicated to educating and developing custom Read More
ManagementAg Land Values In Limbo In 2017
January 10, 2017
Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values. Randy Dickhut, senior vice Read More
Industry NewsPattison Agriculture Positioned To Be Leading Canadian …
January 10, 2017
Pattison Agriculture Limited (Pattison Agriculture), a division of The Jim Pattison Group (the Pattison Group), has announced the merger of Read More
Fertilizer Tender close-up
MicronutrientsHow Micronutrients Fit Into 2017 Fertility Plans
January 10, 2017
Where do micronutrients stand going forward in fertility plans? For one thing, Tim Mundorf, Field Representative with Midwest Laboratories, says Read More
Fertilizer application
State of the IndustryCautious Optimism On Fertilizer In 2017
January 10, 2017
What kind of fertilizer rates are growers and retailers looking at in 2017 and beyond? According to stakeholders CropLife magazine Read More
Asmus Farm Supply crop protection products in storage
State of the IndustryCrop Protection Products Market: Complexity Begets Oppo…
January 10, 2017
While other key market segments in agriculture continue to see tumultuous shifts in sales volumes going forward (large equipment sales are Read More
RoGator RG1300B AGCO
Sprayers10 Sprayers That Will Showcase The Latest Application T…
January 10, 2017
Sprayer manufacturers continue to step up their games with the latest in application technology. From direct injection systems and four-wheel Read More
Soybean Field
FungicidesGrowers Report Yield Boost, Extended Residual Disease C…
January 9, 2017
With the new growing season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about inputs for 2017. As growers weigh Read More
Donald Trump
Eric SfiligojTrump’s New Ag Secretary Coming Soon?
January 9, 2017
As agricultural experts are quick to point out, incoming President Donald Trump largely has the nation’s growers to thank for Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsThe Path Ahead For Mergers & Acquisitions In Agricu…
January 9, 2017
Bayer AG’s proposed $66 billion takeover of Monsanto would create, by far, the industry giant capturing more than a quarter Read More
Jeff Troike Ceres Solutions
CropLife 100Troike Named CEO Of Newly Formed Ceres Solutions Cooper…
January 6, 2017
Jeff Troike has been named President and CEO of the newly formed agribusiness known as Ceres Solutions Cooperative. Ceres Solutions Read More