Ultimately one thing really matters in the service encounter – “the customer’s perceptions of what occurred”
Processes are the architecture of services. They describe the method and sequence in which service operating systems work and link together to create a service experience that customers will value. Customers themselves are an integral part of the organization. Badly designed processes are devastating to employees and end up with poor quality and frustration.
To address process issues, we answer the following questions;
- How can delivery/consumption be designed?
- How do we reduce service failure?
- How can service redesign improve quality and productivity?
- When are customers co-producers?
- Why do customers reject new self-service technologies?
- How to control uncooperative customers?
One of the process design tools helps you walk through and picture the whole process. Divide activities into front-stage and backstage. Service blueprints clarify the interactions between customers and employees and how they are supported by additional activities and systems backstage. It helps managers to see potential fail points. A well-planned script should provide descriptions of the service encounter. By examining existing scripts, managers may modify interactions.
Components of Blueprint
- Definition of standards for each front-stage activity.
- Physical and other evidence for the front-stage activities for all steps.
- Principal customer actions (pictures).
- Front-stage actions by customer contact personnel.
- The line of visibility.
- Backstage actions by customer contact personnel.
- Support processes involving other service personnel.
- Support processes involving IT.
Example of Restaurant Blueprint Services
Act 1: Prologue and Introductory Scenes
- Making reservations
- On arrival customer parks car
- Leave coats in coatroom?
- Enjoy a drink in the bar while they wait?
- Are escorted to table and are seated.
Act 2: Delivery of Core Product
- Verify reservations, pick up menu
- Escort guests to table and offer menus
- Greet, take orders
- Place orders
- Deliver orders
- Deliver wine
- Guests have meal and billing takes place.
Act 3: Drama Concludes
- Accurate intelligible bill presented promptly
- Payment handled politely and quickly, guest thanked
- Customer may visit a clean toilet
- Right court retrieved from the coatroom
- The car brought to the
doorpromptly, customer thanked and bid bye.
Critical Points for Management
- Identify fail points.
- Think about all that may go wrong
- Improve reliability of service by failure proofing – remember clients and employees
- Failsafe methods for employees – voice recognition, color codes, mirrors e.t.c.
Treatment errors – failure to acknowledge and listen
Tangible errors – physical elements of service
Failsafe methods for customers – information, beeps, queue controls, electioneering – information, notices
Service Process Design
Those that have become outdated include:
- Institutional rust
- Environmental changes
- Deterioration of internal processes
- Creeping bureaucracy
- Unofficial standards
Look for opportunities for product improvement (blueprints). Redesign effort seek to: reduce failures, cycle time, enhance productivity, increase customer satisfaction. Redesign encompasses reconstitution, rearrangement or substitution of service processes, which can be categorized into:
- Eliminating no-value adding steps-filling forms, inquiry and information provision
- Shifting to self-service
- Delivering direct service
- Building services
- Redesigning of physical aspects of service processes
Customer as a Co-Producer
Blueprinting helps to specify the role of customers in terms of passive or active participation. Levels of customer participation vary as follows:
- Low – movie, cleaning services or maintenance
- Moderate – customer input may be required e.g. accountant services (must provide info)
- High – health club, weight loss
- Self-service technologies (SST) – customers both love and hate them (when they don’t work)
- Service firms as teachers
- Firms must teach the customers their role in the encounter, over participation by customers may distract – e.g. fast food (no customization)
- The more the work customers are supposed to do, the greater the need for information.
- Service providers must be trained to improve teaching skills
- Customers as partial employees.
In services, the