Companies must constantly change and develop. In doing so, the use of effective methods is necessary. A „proactive“ approach is the planned goal-oriented strategic development with the aim of a „best in class“ solution in service delivery.
Blueprinting – a classification
An effective method for this is „blueprinting“ or „strategic blueprinting“. The name originally comes from architecture, where „blueprint“ is the term for the blueprint of a building plan, i.e. it can be associated with the creation of a plan.
Blueprinting is a technique to understand and improve the whole process of a service. This method helps to identify and understand the needs and requirements of the client by breaking down the service process into its component parts.
Blueprinting is used to visualise and document the process of a service by breaking it down into several layers. The first layer comprises the ‚physical evidence‘ such as the ambience or furnishings of the service provider. The second layer consists of the interaction between the client and the service provider. The third layer includes the processes required to deliver the service and the fourth layer includes the background processes required to support the service.
By mapping each layer to its corresponding characteristics, companies can identify potential problems in the service process and develop solutions to improve customer interaction and the service itself. By using the blueprinting method, companies can better align their services with their customers‘ needs and thus increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
An extended version of the blueprinting method is strategic blueprinting. It focuses on the development of a comprehensive strategy. So, unlike traditional blueprinting, which focuses on improving an existing service process, strategic blueprinting aims to improve a company’s overall service strategy. This includes how it markets its services and how it wins clients, as well as how they are serviced and how it competes with competitors.
With strategic blueprinting to the service strategy
Strategic blueprinting is suitable for companies of any size and in any sector that offer a service. It can be particularly helpful in improving the service and differentiating it in the market and from competitors. This is especially important for companies that are, for example:
Strategic blueprinting can be divided into the following important phases:
The first step is to analyse the current service system. In this step, the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s current service system are identified and analysed.
This is followed by the development of a vision. Based on the analysis of the current service system, the company develops a vision of how it will (change) provide the service in the future.
Attention must be paid to the identification of key competences. The company identifies the key competences it needs to realise the vision.
Based on the vision and the key competencies, the company then develops concrete new service concepts that enable it to differentiate itself from competitors and better meet customer needs.
The company develops an implementation strategy for putting the new service concepts into practice. This can vary greatly depending on the starting point and situation and should be developed in an adapted way.
Monitoring and adaptation system
Finally, the framework is defined in which the company can continuously monitor and adapt its service delivery to respond to changes in customer needs and changing market conditions.
The phase of developing new concepts is particularly critical to success, because it is here that the right course for the future must be set and effective service products developed. The following procedure has proven successful:
Step 1: Concept organisation and team
Define and select the personnel for the programme, i.e. the participants of the steering committee, the programme manager, the responsible concept owners, concept managers and technical contact persons of the divisions and departments must be determined, briefed and instructed.
Step 2: Selection and definition of concepts
In accordance with the procedures in Blueprinting, the various layers of the company are examined for possible topics and sensible concept contents, usually taking into account the defined Customer Journey. The concepts to be produced are defined in a coordinated manner and assigned to the respective concept owners/concept processors in lists.
Step 3: Idea and one-pager
First, the concept owners create a pragmatic one-pager in coordination with the concept editors, in which all details of the respective concept (goal, scope, out of scope, benefits, etc.) are briefly formulated. This draft goes through a gating process in which the defined contents are compared with the concept brief. It is important not to waste any thought on feasibility at first, because the concepts should (initially) only be oriented towards what is really innovative and represents a distinguishing feature in the service.
Step 4: High-level concept
If the concept is OK up to this point, the second stage of concept creation follows. It consists of the creation of a short concept that enriches the content of the one-pager and presents the intended service innovations in more detail. This further developed concept also goes through another gating, in which the next concept stage is released for the concept editor.
Step 5: Low-level concept
In the third and final stage of the concept, the targeted „business requirements“, i.e. the targeted service innovations, are defined and described in detail. After further gating, the concept is handed over to the implementation team.
This means that the development of concrete service innovations is finished for the time being and the phase of further coordination, feasibility studies and implementation follows.
Blueprinting is meaningful and sustainable
The process described here is, of course, very simplified. Overall, the implementation of such a method is absolutely sensible, even if it initially ties up personnel resources in the company. It often makes sense to involve an experienced programme manager to ensure focus and goal achievement even in parallel daily business.
Blueprinting helps companies to improve their services by carefully analysing the service delivery process and identifying potential bottlenecks or problems. By considering customer expectations and needs and developing solutions that address them, companies can increase customer satisfaction and retention.
Michael Fürst – Senior Consultant