You gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.

– Steve Jobs

Photo: Nick Seagrave

When a techie with an attitude asked him about OpenDoc and other technologies, Jobs made it clear that all begins with the benefits the customer is looking for, instead of sitting down with the engineers to figure out what awesome technology is available. He made it clear that the customers’ needs and expectations come first, and technology comes later, even at Apple. (You can watch the interview here).

In the past weeks, I’ve read a couple of articles where they talk about customer experience as a result of the customer journey. “Map your customers’ journey and you will be delivering an extraordinary experience”, they say.

Sorry, it is not true. Mapping a customer journey is a useful tool to understand where and when is our customer in touch with us… and that’s it. It does not say how are we going to answer, what will we do to meet –or exceed, I prefer– our customers’ expectations.  It doesn’t say what our people, our processes and technology have to do to fulfill our promise.

And that is, my friends, what you have to do to deliver an impeccable customer experience, an impeccable service, and exceed your customers’ expectations. If you do not specify the hows, the whens and whos, you’re gonna fail.

We need to work on the design of an experience that delivers what we promise, when we promise it, and in the conditions we promise… or better, time after time.

So, what’s customer experience’s missing leg? The Service Blueprint. That map where we define what will happen before, during and after the customer’s needs and expectations are satisfied (and exceeded, I’d say).

The Blueprint includes five elements:  the physical evidence of the experience (stores, web pages, apps, luggage carts, etc.); the customer actions –aka Customer Journey– or what the customer does during the whole experience; the onstage visible actions, or what is performed facing the customer, by a clerk, a waiter, an ATM, or any other person or media; the backstage invisible actions, or the cooking, the parking, the reservations); and support processes and technologies, like the check in system, the delivery order process, or the room cleaning process. 

When you map them, you ensure how and when to deliver what your customers expect, and when and how to exceed it. Try it; you will be able to deliver an extraordinary experience, and your customers will thank it.

If you want to know more about the Blueprint, you can read “Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation” by Mary Jo Bitner, Amy L. Ostrom and Felicia N. Morgan.

One more thing. 

Bring the operations people to the table. Without them, the service will not work and you will not deliver the customer experience you promised.

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