Blueprints are plans used to guide the construction of a building, but they can also be an important tool in creating and implementing an effective customer service plan. These blueprints offer a snapshot of the customer experience that encompasses every customer touchpoint along the way. First used by notable companies like Home Depot and Cisco, the customer service blueprint is now being adopted by companies nationwide as a means of bringing customer service to the next level.
Elements of a Customer Service Blueprint
The specifics of a customer service blueprint may vary from company to company, and could include the following elements:
• Technology – This encompasses all of the technology tools customers come in contact with, including your company website and automated phone system. Are these technology tools as customer-friendly as they could and should be?
• Direct Customer Contact – This involves customer contact with employees from your company, either through face-to-face interactions or phone conversations.
• Indirect Customer Contact – This is all contact that is not personal, such as live chat, email and written correspondence.
• Support Processes – Sometimes the work done by other employees in your company that have no direct customer contact can impact the customer experience. For example, employees that package customer orders or employees that process loan correspondence are still giving customers an impression of your company without directly contacting customers.
By placing these elements into a service blueprint, it provides a visual map for everyone in the company to understand how their actions might impact the customer experience. It also provides a basis for implementing and maintaining a strong customer service program that will boost company health and profits.
Maintaining a Customer Service Blueprint
Once a customer service blueprint is in place, it should not be filed away and forgotten. This map is a dynamic tool that should be visited frequently to determine whether each aspect of your customer service is doing its job to provide a positive customer experience that promotes repeat and new business. To begin, consider each element in the blueprint from a customer’s perspective, and ask questions like the following:
• What sort of experience does the customer receive in this area?
• What are we doing well?
• What do we need to work on to improve?
• How can we make the customer experience better in this area?
• What additional services could we provide to enhance the customer experience?
• What are the possible “pain points” or obstacles customers face?
Once the initial questions are answered, and proper procedures implemented based on those standards, the blueprint will need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure customers’ needs are still being met in the most efficient, positive way possible. Every element must be visited to determine whether any single department or process within the company is hindering the customer experience. As new procedures are added, the blueprint may be modified to handle the changing needs of the customer.
A customer service blueprint is an effective stepping stone to a higher level of service in your company. By identifying customer touch points, as well as other elements in your business that impact the customer experience, you can create a comprehensive customer service plan that enhances the customer experience in every way.