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Service Design – Service Blueprinting and Tollgates add Much-needed Structure ….

December 7th, 2011 Comments off

Service Design | Services BlueprintingIn our design course we present an argument that over 70% of a product’s 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 shouldn’t 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 shouldn’t 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 entity’s business model and which a company certainly doesn’t want to disclose to its customers as it risks the very essence of their value proposition.  This is especially true for B2B service companies.

Download service design - Tollgate Process a short .ppt dealing with tollgate reviews in the service design process …

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.

Service Innovation and Design – Help me help you …

November 30th, 2011 Comments off

Service Innovation - Help me help youRecognizing co-production as the core concept of service innovation leads service providers to rich deposits of waste, the extraction of which adds tremendous value to a customer relationship.  And, failing to recognize the interdependence leads to suboptimal solutions.

When providing a service, whether B2B or B2C, we too often view the flow of activity as simply going one way.  In actuality, there is a constant flow of information and activity in both directions as you and your customer move along the continuum of operations that deliver the ultimate job.  This is especially true in B2B businesses that have another end consumer to a co-produced good or service.

Too often we give the notion of this relationship a friendly nod but fail to incorporate it into our work.  We fail to respect this interdependence because we all look for control in our work.  The introduction of the notion of reliance on the interrelationship with our customer brings a highly uncontrollable input.  We have a difficult time telling the person to whom or entity to which we are attempting to satisfy a need that we need something from them.

Download service innovation

a short .ppt dealing with tollgate reviews in the service design process …

Service Innovation - Customer RequirementsBut as iconic movie star Tom Cruise, while playing sports agent Jerry McGuire, says to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s Rod Tidwell, playing his client, “Help Me Help You”.  It was when Jerry McGuire recognized the interdependence between his actions and his clients that success accrued to both of them.  Your clients’ actions as your partner may be uncontrollable but they remain undeniable.  And when they are recognized, great opportunities open to provide more value and earn more profit by capturing a portion of it themselves.

The first step in recognizing this co-production is to give it visibility.  The best way to do this is with various mapping activities.  You can value stream map the overall process, including both the service provider and clients’ activities.  This can be pursued further with customer mapping.  Another alternative is to perform service blueprinting, which specifically focuses on a service provider’s interactions with its customers.

For a further discussion on how to identify the interrelationships between you and your customer’s co-production so as to add value to your customer and capture value for your company, please contact me.