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

LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More
LegislationTFI Praises White House For Signing WRRDA Into Law
June 11, 2014
The bill streamlines U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, prioritizes authorized waterway improvements and provides needed adjustments to the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementAllied Cooperative, Arcadia Co-op Plan Merger
June 10, 2014
The Board of Directors of Allied Cooperative and Arcadia Co-op recently signed a letter of intent for a merger between the two cooperatives. Read More
EmployeesSyngenta: ‘Take Charge’ Of Farm Safety
June 4, 2014
Syngenta and health officials warn of four health-related challenges in agriculture and how they can be managed. Read More

Trending Articles

Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More

Latest News

ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Resumes Production At Oklahoma Nitrogen C…
July 17, 2014
The company had shut down production at the Woodward, OK, facility in April to address an issue in one of the site’s boilers. Read More