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Service Blueprinting: A simple yet effective tool to illustrate a complex narrative

The article entitled “Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation” was written by the professors Mary Jo Bitner, Amy L. Ostrom, and Felicia N. Morgan and deals specifically with what the title suggests, service blueprinting and how the method of service blueprinting has changed in the attempt to better focus customer experience.

Service blueprinting exist with the goal of illustrating issues such as the service process, point of customer contact and the physical evidence associated with services from a customer perspective, to a client or firm in order to hopefully better the customer experience.

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When Bitner uses the word “service” in her article she is referring to “offerings provided for and/or co-created with customers such as professional services, retail, financial, telecommunication, healthcare, and many others.”  She states that “what all these services have in common is an interface with an actual customer whether thorough technology or interpersonal interactions.” Any product or “service” that has an intended directive for a customer to follow to meet a certain goal. Whether the goal is from a customer perspective or a service provider perspective.

The article goes on to illustrate further how services are actually a series of processes. Unlike a static physical good, services can be viewed as a chain of events that allow a service to function “effectively”.  The article summed up very quickly is that a great service blueprint both addresses the act of the process the customer must take in the service, as well as the experience the customer has during the process.

As Bitner suggests, a well-designed service blueprint takes into consideration specific variables of the customer journey planned stages from “the establishment of clear objectives, to idea generation, to concept development, service design, prototyping, service launch, and customer feedback. Service design requires an understanding of the customer outcome and customer process”.

Personally I found this article insightful and helpful in filling in some blanks of information directed specifically to our current service design project in the actual classroom. My interpretation of the article as a whole is probably not one of great revelation as we are currently building something similar, a customer journey map, that is one of the areas which is condensed inside of a service blueprint. A service blueprint is for me, a new model that I will use to easily introduce what could be a complex system of variables in a customer’s service journey.

I believe I can succinctly describe a service blueprint as being a simple graphical representation that is intended for clients or stakeholders – such as customers, employees both front and back of the house, to visualize the current state of their service process and identify any areas that can be improved upon. This could include efficiency, innovation for new service touchpoints, or better customer services.

My point of view is that this was a very helpful article. I agree with what the authors were saying. That there is a way to illustrate in a simple and easy to quickly to visually understand the process and physical variables that are involved in a service, which otherwise may get overlooked by a stakeholder or employee. I intend on using the information gained in the future.

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