Providing exceptional customer service in today’s environment is not an aspirational goal—it's a necessity. It’s the standard by which users and customers judge your business. If you fail to deliver the experiences people expect, they’ll start to gravitate toward a competitor who will.
But the service you think you’re providing is often not the service that customers are receiving. Many things can get in the way of delivering exceptional customer service. Some of these things you can control and others you can't. The only way to know the difference is to get a comprehensive 360-degree view of your service inside and out.
A journey map is one tool for getting this comprehensive view. The goal of a customer journey map is to help you find pain points that need better solutions. It helps you get in the heads of your customers so you can understand how they experience your service.
Service blueprints are like customer journey maps. They map out complex processes in a way that makes it easier to see what's going on. But service blueprints document the process from the perspective of the business. They show how your organization creates the experience for your customers.
The real magic happens when you combine these two tools. They're both powerful on their own, but combined they can give you the game-changing perspective you need to deliver experiences your customers will rave about.
How to Craft an Effective Customer Journey Map
Customer journey maps are an invaluable tool for visualizing the customer experience. They document the path customers take when interacting with your product or service. An effective journey map shows the steps of the journey as well as the thoughts, emotions and pain points customers experience at each stage.
Customer Journey Maps come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of detail. But here are some standard steps that go into creating an effective journey map.
1. Define Your Customer Personas
Begin by understanding your customer segments and their unique characteristics. What do they want and need? What are they looking to do and why do they come to your product or service to do that? It’s not enough to identify customers as a single group. Dive into the different personas that make up your customer base. Take the time to understand who they are and what they need in as much detail as possible.
2. Map Key Touchpoints
Map out the various interactions customers have with your business. Call out the points at which they have direct contact with your team and your product or service. You need a record of every touchpoint from beginning to end so you can start to identify what works or doesn't.
3. Document Customer Actions and Emotions
This is where you get into the heads of your customers to understand what they do, think, and feel. Empathy maps play a critical role in identifying how you can help customers feel less pain and more gain.
4. Identify Pain Points and Opportunities
As you document each step of the journey, think about what you already know about your customers. Where do they feel the most pain? What problems are they trying to solve? How could your product or service help them solve those problems? You're looking for opportunities to improve their experience in any way you can.
5. Prioritize Enhancements
A good journey map helps you see the areas that need immediate attention. With a full picture of the customer experience, you can see the biggest pain points and greatest opportunities. The map can also give you an effective tool for charting your progress in addressing these issues.
The Power of Customer Journey Maps
Customer journey maps are like flashlights, illuminating every corner of your customer experience in ways that quantitative data alone cannot. Here are just some of the benefits of having a well-documented journey map.
Journey maps help you empathize with your customers.
Journey maps give your team the ability to view things through the eyes of your customers. They can better understand the highs and lows of the experience and keep these insights top of mind while designing solutions.
Journey maps help you uncover pain points.
You can improve something if you don’t know it’s broken. We’ve seen journey maps provide countless “aha” moments as teams see that an experience is not happening the way they intended.
Journey maps help you prioritize opportunities for improvement.
When you can see the entire journey from beginning to end, you can have productive conversations about how to fix it. Instead of addressing one piece at a time in a silo, teams can collaboratively work together to solve problems holistically.
Journey maps can help align your teams.
They’re conversation starters and models to help keep conversations going. Journey maps allow you to agree on one version of reality so your conversations can be more productive and focused.
How to Construct an Effective Service Blueprint
Service blueprints dive deeper into the internal processes that support the customer experience. They map out every aspect of service delivery including customer-facing and behind-the-scenes activities across many teams, departments, and processes. For this reason, they can be difficult to create. You need to get a lot of stakeholders involved and poke at some sensitive realities.
Here’s how we like to simplify and standardize the process to make it a little easier for everybody.
1. Define the Service
Outline the service you want to blueprint. It can be tempting to try to tackle a complete service like customer onboarding. If you make the service too broad, though, you might spin your wheels on things that don’t matter as much. But if you define the service too narrowly you might miss key dependencies. Getting the right definition can make all the difference.
2. Map the Customer Journey
If you've already mapped your customer journey then you can use that map to help with this step of the process. If you’re focusing on a service that doesn’t have a customer journey map, consider stopping to do that step first. Everything starts and ends with the customer. If you look only at the service without understanding each customer touchpoint and interaction, you’ll be missing a big piece of the picture.
3. Separate Frontstage and Backstage Activities
Think of your service like a good stage show. There are the things the audience sees from their seats and then there are all the backstage things that help everything run smoothly. You need to understand how your backstage activities impact what the audience sees. That's crucial to making the entire service better. It will also help you triage and prioritize improvements.
4. Determine Time and Resource Requirements
For each part of the service, you’ll want to calculate the time and resources needed to make each piece work. In some cases, you’ll want to uncover the truth about how much is going into it today. You'll find ways to make the service more efficient and get rid of waste in the process.
5. Identify Key Touchpoints
This is where your customer journey map can help your service blueprint. Knowing where customers interact with the business helps you pinpoint the key parts of the service where those touchpoints come into play. Now you’re starting to get a true 360-degree view of how your internal processes impact customers.
6. Outline Dependencies
As the blueprint comes together, you’ll start to see how one stage or activity is dependent upon another. You’ll see what customer interactions are most important for the customer journey. You'll identify which processes help or hinder those interactions. These dependencies will help your priorities start to emerge. The whole thing will start to come together and you'll see where you're getting stuck.
The Value of Service Blueprints
Service blueprints serve as a bridge between the customer and your internal operations. They offer you a way to operationalize insights about the customer journey and identify the places that need the most attention.
Service blueprints give you a clear understanding of your processes.
We’ve heard clients that they’ve never seen their processes as clearly as they do after reviewing a service blueprint we helped them create. Effective service blueprints help you see how your services are actually delivered, as opposed to how you think they’re delivered.
Service blueprints help you improve your customer experience.
By identifying bottlenecks, you can take targeted action to enhance the customer experience. When combined with customer journey maps, you can be even more effective at pinpointing areas to improve.
Service blueprints create more engaged employees.
It’s impossible to create an effective service blueprint without involving teams from across the organization. This has the added benefit of giving everybody an opportunity to clarify their roles and responsibilities. Nothing is better than seeing a room of coworkers and teammates energized by the insights and new discoveries a well-executed service blueprint can provide.
Service blueprints help optimize your operations.
By uncovering inefficiencies, blueprints can help you find opportunities to streamline your operations. You’ll see redundancies you didn’t know you had, and find creative ways to combine personnel and budgets to get better bang for your buck.
The Benefits of Combining Journey Maps and Service Blueprints
When combined, journey maps and service blueprints can give you the 360-degree view of your services that you’ve been missing. Many organizations don’t take the time to combine the two, but the effort can pay off in many ways.
Align Customer and Operational Perspectives
Journey maps provide the "what" from the customer's viewpoint. Service blueprints offer the "how" from an operational perspective. Together, they align these two essential aspects of your service and ensure that customer needs and business operations are in harmony.
Root Cause Analysis
When you find issues in your journey map, you can often dive deeper into them through your service blueprint. They help you pinpoint the root causes of those issues within your processes and address them more efficiently.
Journey maps and service blueprints can help you make more informed strategic decisions. You'll not only more clearly state the questions that you need to answer, but you'll likely find more creative solutions.
Together, journey maps and service blueprints provide a comprehensive framework for continuous improvement. The time and effort it takes to create these tools more than pays for itself in the long run. You can update and adapt them to match your changing reality. You can use them to track your iterative improvements. You'll have a constant record of your processes and interactions and what you've done to improve them over time.
It’s Time to Take a Holistic Approach to Service Excellence
In today's environment, you have to take a holistic approach to customer service or you’ll fall behind. You’ll miss the biggest pain points holding your customers back. You’ll miss the opportunities right in front of you to streamline your operations. You'll waste time and resources working on the wrong things.
Embrace the power of these tools and you'll be well on your way to providing unparalleled service and staying ahead of the competition.
Not sure where to start? We know it can seem daunting. But we’ve helped countless clients break down their customer experience and internal processes into bite-sized pieces and make immediate improvements.
Let’s chat about how we can help you optimize your customer experience.