Tools for Service Design: Blueprinting & Servicescapes

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Blueprinting and servicescapes used in service design can help in understanding the delivery of services to customers. In this lesson, you'll learn more about these two valuable tools for delivery excellent service.

Building Blind

Tom is a contractor who just won a bid for a large commercial building in downtown Austin. Tom's built hundreds of buildings throughout his career, and this new structure is much like a project he just completed for a client elsewhere in Austin. Tom feels like he can forego using a blueprint for this project since he's familiar enough with basic construction. What could go wrong?

The answer is, everything! A blueprint is a tool used for guiding or planning a project. It's a way of creating a design that can be followed for success.

Though the technical uses of a blueprint for building and a blueprint for service design differ, the inherent components are the same: it provides a guide for building a better experience.

What is Service Design?

Service design, at its heart, is all about ensuring that customers get what they want. It's the experiences customers have and the attention given to customers that helps ensure a quality service experience. That's not to say that the money side of a customer interaction isn't important; it is. But, service design is focused on making the delivery of your services stand out, a component that can lead to an advantage over your competitors.

Service design is typically rated based on a few factors, including efficiency, effectiveness and usefulness. Think of the rise of popular car services like Uber and Lyft. If the service provided by either is not efficient, effective or useful, customers are likely to go elsewhere. Service that fails in any one of these areas can impact your ability to deliver good service design.

But, how do you build good service design? Is it inherent? Orchestrated? Developed over time? Just like the blueprint Tom uses for constructing buildings, there are a couple of tools available to help coordinate good service design. Let's discuss them below.

What is Blueprinting?

A service blueprint, like a construction blueprint, maps the all the points of a customer's interactions with an organization over time and across multiple channels. That may sound a lot like a customer journey map; however, a blueprint dives deeper into the internal functioning of a business and the behind-the-scenes components that show how you operate and how that impacts the customer's experience. A customer journey map focuses on experiences from the customer's point of view, where a blueprint uses a customer's experience as a beginning point and uncovers all the processes and services an organization uses throughout that customer's journey.

The blueprint itself is laid out much like a swimming pool, with long lanes that represent the customer's actions and the various business departments and support services that are involved at every stage of the journey.

The five primary 'swim lanes' displayed in a service blueprint include:

1. Physical evidence: These are the tangible things a customer experiences through sight, sound, smell or touch including websites, brochures and store experiences.

2. Customer actions: This describes how a customer interacts with each point of physical evidence. For example, if you're in the hotel industry and one of your physical evidence categories is your front lobby, the customer action might include registration or check-in.

3. Front-of-Stage: These are the processes and people a customer comes face-to-face with during an action. Front-of-stage would be like the actors in a theater production.

4. Back-of-Stage: These are the processes and people necessary to deliver service, but they aren't dealing directly with customers. Back-of-stage would be like the sound and lighting crew in a theater production.

5. Support services: These are the actions necessary to support various services. If you're distributing brochures to a customer about an event, a support service might be the graphic design required to build the brochure.

The final result of a service blueprint that delivers a complete picture of an experience from one end to the other. The benefits of a service blueprint include the following:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Understanding where changes need to be made to improve service
  • Designing a new service thoroughly
  • Keeping track of how services are produced
  • Understanding all the key performers in delivering a service
  • Figuring out how services interact with one another

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