Service Design – Service Blueprinting and Tollgates add Much-needed Structure ….
In our design course we present an argument that over 70% of a products total cost is captured within its design process. Based on that assumption, we go on to argue the most impactful activity a company can make to lower the cost of new products is to improve its design process. While we dont cite similar statistics for a service, we believe the basic principals are the same.
Within Service Design, we believe there are two activities that we have observed service companies dont aggressively pursue and which, if improved, could dramatically improve its cycle times, costs and perceived customer service quality. Specifically, intensive mapping and tollgating are two basic design process and design principles that service companies would be well served to improve.
Tollgates should serve as business reviews and not technical reviews. Tollgate business reviews should include cross-functional teams that are named based upon the business risk of the project. Some new service offerings should include the CEO and others shouldnt require such attention. Tollgate reviews should include discussions about project risk, customer requirements, financial objectives and schedule/timeline.
Certainly, when constructing customer requirements for the service, there should be some form of VOC, such as a quantitative or qualitative survey, and conversion to CTQs using some form of decision matrix or tool such as a QFD. But customer input shouldnt stop after setting initial customer requirements.
Customers should be part of the tollgate process. They should be treated as a stakeholder just like everyone that is part of the cross-functional team. Of course, design incorporates a lot of proprietary information that is part of an entitys business model and which a company certainly doesnt want to disclose to its customers as it risks the very essence of their value proposition. This is especially true for B2B service companies.
The key to incorporating the customer in the tollgate process and still maintaining a protective shield on your value proposition is to know when and on what to include the client. A valuable tool to identify those points is a service blueprint that details all the on stage points of customer interaction. These are the customer input points. It is here that they form their perception of service quality.
Service companies still have very ad hoc service design processes. Process mapping and tollgate reviews are two simple tools that can put some initial structure into service design. Service Blueprinting, a form of process mapping, is a great tool to understand how to extend tollgate reviews to include customer feedback during design. The stronger the design process, the shorter the lead times, lower the costs and higher the perceived customer experience. If you would like to discuss any of these concepts or how to implement them, contact me.