The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Services are often composed of a series of decentralized activities, where different employees work together to serve customers. To improve the service effectiveness of the entire service system and to innovate service processes and models, it is necessary to think about the composition of the service system itself and its complex relationships, which requires modeling and analysis of the service system. The service blueprint covers not only the entire journey of the user but also all the interaction processes that can make the journey feasible.
In this article, we will briefly introduce the concept of Service Blueprint as a tool and discuss how it can be applied by game user researchers to optimize research methods in their daily work.
01 What is Service Blueprint
A service blueprint is a two-dimensional description of customer behavior in the service process, service company employee behavior as well as service contact and scenario, etc. And it presents the process of customer receiving service and the interaction within the service system in the form of a unified chart. The service blueprint includes not only the horizontal customer service process, but also the vertical internal collaboration, and is a chart depicting the composition of the entire service front, middle and backstage.
The overall structure of the service blueprint consists of four parts: customer journey behavior, front stage staff behavior, backstage staff behavior, and support process. The top of the blueprint is a tangible display of the service, and the interaction between each adjacent two parts is indicated by a horizontal line.
Customer journey: It revolves around the process of receiving services and evaluating them by referring to the steps, choices, actions, and interactions in the process of buying, consuming, and evaluating services that customers have to do in order to obtain those services.
Frontstage action: The process of interaction between the frontstage staff and the customer revolves around the behaviors and steps that the customer can see when the service staff exhibits.
Backstage action: The service behavior that occurs behind the scenes and supports the frontstage behavior. Backstage actions must exist in order to provide the service properly.
Support process: It covers all internal services, steps, and interactions that occur during the delivery of services that support all the above actions between customers and employees.
There are three dividing lines separating the four main behavioral action stages:
The first is the interaction line, which is the boundary between the customer and the service system. Each line perpendicular to the interaction boundary represents the direct contact between the customer and the service system, which is the direct source of influencing customer service perception and the focus of user observation.
The second line is the line of visibility, which distinguishes between frontstage staff behavior, which can be seen by the customer, and backstage staff behavior, which is hidden behind the frontstage staff behavior. By analyzing this line of the service blueprint, we can clearly see how much of the process is visible to the customer (above the line of sight) and how much is below it. The front and backstage staff are not completely separated, and the work done by the same service staff in the front and backstage is differentiated by this line.
The third line is the internal interaction line, which exists between the backstage employee behavior and the support process. It distinguishes employees who interact with customers from support activities and technologies.
The essence of games is a kind of service, and we can take the game content experienced by players as the “frontstage”, while the developers who made the game content are the “backstage”. Compared with traditional system modeling tools such as UML and SysML, service blueprint can greatly reduce the difficulty of system modeling for non-professionals, and at the same time, it is closer to the characteristics of the service system, which will enhance its scalability and universality in the process of service innovation.
Case: short distance commute shuttle service blueprint
The case is an “Internet + group travel” company whose main business is customized shuttles. Before optimizing the company’s product, the staff drew a flow of commuting to work for an average user.
02 using service blueprint to optimize your service
The Service Blueprint is a qualitative framework for identifying dependencies between employee-facing processes and customer-facing processes. Service blueprints help teams understand the nature of service processes, control and evaluate service quality, and manage the customer experience appropriately. On the one hand, Service Blueprinting helps companies to identify what customers need but companies are not doing and to identify services that are potentially duplicative or not needed by customers in order to optimize service processes. On the other hand, a service blueprint is a visualization result across different departments that coordinates the work of various teams within a complex service framework.
As the diagram shows, the wider the scope of the service, the more departments are involved. In traditional service behavior, UX has a direct correlation with customer behavior, and sales staff and data management staff are involved in front and back-stage work respectively.
(Gibbons, Joyce, 2019)
Service blueprints have different utilities at different design stages. In the stage of the definition phase, the service blueprint helps us understand the present pain points, identify opportunities, and prioritize areas of focus. In the prototype phase, service blueprints can constitute new processes, prototype future changes, and assess potential business impact. In the testing and implementation phases, it helps communicate changes across departments and teams, getting different people behind the same truth and benchmarking changes over time.
(Gibbons, Joyce, 2019)
03 using service blueprint to optimize UX research methods
In the practice of game user research, we often use a variety of testing methods. Service blueprint can also be implemented into methods like lab playtesting and the simplest test process you can get is basically as follows:
A service blueprint is also very simple to read, from left to right you can track the events of customer behavior, from the customer’s point of view to experience how he is using the service, what options are faced. Reading vertically then provides insight into which employees play a key role in the service and what communication occurs between employees. As a whole, you can focus on thinking about whether the current service process is rational and efficient.
One of the more obvious breakpoints in this diagram is that players cannot actively contact the frontstage staff after accepting phone interviews. And only those who finally pass the screening process can be notified by text message. When the number of registered players is large, it is difficult for the staff to tell them one by one about the screening results, and this information gap may cause some registered players to be confused. To optimize this, it is necessary to establish a link between registered players and backstage staff, such as a platform to check whether they have passed or failed the screening.