Service blueprints are valuable tools for examining and improving customer service and finding ways to improve internal operations. In 1984, G. Lynn Shostack introduced the concept of the service blueprint template. As part of the template, Shostack visualized the steps that go into a service process from the customer’s perspective. This addition made it simpler for teams to design new processes and improve existing ones while keeping the customer in mind. This article will outline what a service blueprint template is and how you can build one yourself.
When to Use a Service Blueprint Template
Service blueprints serve various purposes across teams. This includes exchanging information between teams, clarifying workflows internally, and optimizing customer-facing processes. However, they can also effectively reduce silos and inefficiencies by clarifying roles and functions. You can use service blueprint diagrams to compare your services with your competitors and audit them internally. In addition, you can use them to fill in the gaps between how your service should operate and how it does operate.
Elements of a Service Blueprint
Generally, service blueprints include five categories. Each of these illustrates the main component of the service you mapped out.
- Physical Evidence: This is what customers and even employees encounter. Though it’s first in line, it’s usually the last element to be added. In different terms, this refers to the experience that the customer witnesses.
- Customer Actions: This is what customers do when engaging with the product/service.
- Frontstage or Visible Employee Actions: This is what customers see and with whom they interact. If your business is tech-heavy, you should include or replace this category with the technology you use to interact with customers.
- Backstage or Invisible Employee Actions: This element contains all other actions, preparations, and responsibilities. Although they are not visible to the customers, they are necessary for providing the service.
- Support processes: These are the internal/additional activities that support the employees providing the service.
- Lines: Service blueprints may contain lines that separate each category, clarifying how components within a service process interact with one another. This enables employees and managers to better understand their role and, most importantly, possible sources of customer dissatisfaction within a service experience.
For more detail, you could also include a timeline that shows:
- How long each step takes
- A success metric to gauge satisfaction
- The emotions of your customer throughout the process
The core purpose of service blueprint templates is to meet the needs of the customer. It allows organizations to visualize the service design, which in turn allows them to refine their processes and deliver pleasant and memorable customer experiences.
How to Create a Service Blueprint
You can make your own service blueprint template at any point in the development process. Here are the steps to create your own service blueprint template.
Propose a Customer Scenario
No matter whether you are designing an entirely new workflow or auditing an existing process, your template should begin with the process you want to explore. It’s often helpful to include real customers in your discussion at this point to ensure that your scenario is as similar to customers’ real (or desired) experiences as possible.
Map the Customer Experience
After deciding on a customer scenario, you will plot out the actions that the customer will take in chronological order.
Build Out the Customer’s Actions
After you’ve mapped out the chronological customer service experience, begin adding the above categories (physical evidence, frontstage actions, “under the hood” actions, etc.) and mapping them to the customer actions.
Clarify Lines of Responsibility and Action
Use the different separation lines (e.g., line of interaction, line of visibility, line of internal action) to keep each category in its own lane. This illustrates the various ways that actors interact during the service process:
- Line of interaction: This is the area where customers interact with employees and the service.
- Line of visibility: This is where employees or organizational processes become invisible to customers.
- Line of internal action: This is where the partners or employees who do not have direct contact with the customer step in to support the service.
Clarify Cross-functional Relationships
When you have mapped out each category, add another level of detail to your service blueprint by adding arrows. You already have procedures listed chronologically within each lane, but you can add relationships and dependencies that cross-reference diverse categories using the arrows. If a shape has one arrow, the exchange occurs in that direction. If it has two arrows, it must consider some agreement or that the two shapes are linked in one way or another.
A service blueprint template is essential if you intend to identify visible and intangible interactions between your customers and your services, identify touchpoints, and improve your customers’ experience. If this article was helpful, make sure you read about the advantages of using a service blueprint.