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Putting It All Together: The Customer Self-Service Blueprint

Creating effective self-service or multi-channel (brick, web, kiosk, and wireless) service encounters as the airline industry has done is proving to be much harder than it looks. This is part of the reason why big retailers such as Circuit City, Target, Office Depot, Toys "R" Us, Nordstrom, and others are outsourcing their e-channels to Amazon.com. They're openly acknowledging that Amazon.com can serve the online customer better than they can. The clarity of Amazon.com's service blueprint separates it from its peers in online retailing.

Figure 3 shows the high-level schematic of a self-service blueprint. Every self-service blueprint is conceptually segmented into four layers:

  1. The focal point layer defines the real business impact (such as being easy to do business with) that needs to be accomplished.

  2. The services layer defines the critical composite processes that support the focal point. Customers prefer to deal with holistic end-to-end processes, not piecemeal fragments.

  3. The process layer is where the core business processes are defined and then digitized, using various applications to implement new customer experiences and support the services strategy.

  4. The integrated enterprise applications layer is the foundation and infrastructure of a business—the technology plumbing and wiring that links the systems, databases, and applications.

A key objective of any self-service blueprint is to align the business strategy, process, and applications. For instance, the point of every self-service blueprint is to improve performance from the customer's perspective. Applications and technology are only a means to achieving that end.

Creating a services blueprint is one topic that executives must understand, especially if they claim that creating a novel customer, employee, supplier, and reseller service experience is central to their business strategy.

Figure 3Figure 3 Different layers of a self-service blueprint.

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