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Turbocharge Your Healthcare Customer Experience with Service Design Mapping

Let’s say you’re looking to improve your healthcare organization’s customer experience (CX). What’s your first move? If you’re like many executives, your gut instinct is probably to zero in on each of the external touchpoints driving that experience.

It makes sense. After all, those direct points of customer interaction — from marketing materials to your member portal to customer support — form the outward manifestation of your products and services.

But what if we told you that your CX problems are more than skin deep? That in order to find lasting solutions to your external issues, you need to address the root causes in your internal systems? The truth is that a superior customer experience begins with the right operational infrastructure: the people, workflows, and systems that support your products, services, and digital experiences.

Your first step toward a brighter CX future is something called service design mapping.

Just as customer journey mapping plots and assesses the outward-facing touchpoints that comprise your customer experience, service design mapping allows you to take stock of the internal systems and processes underlying that experience. Doing so allows you to uncover the root causes of your most stubborn CX issues — and identify opportunities for long-lasting improvement.

What Is Service Design?

Before we get into the details of service design mapping, let’s take a closer look at service design.

Service design is the means by which your internal teams deliver the products and services that, together, make up your organization’s customer experience. In a very real sense, customer experience and service design are two sides of the same coin.

It’s a little like putting on a play. Your customer experience is what happens onstage, while service design is what happens behind the scenes. From the audience’s perspective, the entire experience is encompassed by what they can see — the set, lighting, costumes, and actors all working together visibly onstage. But the performance depends on much more than that. Backstage, the crew readies props, adjusts the lighting and sound, reorders set pieces, and so on. Their activities may be invisible to the audience, but they are every bit as critical to the show’s success.

You can apply the same “front stage/backstage” analogy to your healthcare organization’s customer experience and service design. Front stage components include direct customer interactions like channels, products, and interfaces. Backstage components include the underlying elements — think policies, technology, infrastructure, people, and systems — that support those front stage touchpoints.

The more synchronized your backstage components are, the more seamless your front stage experience will be, too.

The Benefits of Adopting Service Design Mapping in Your Healthcare Organization

Your internal operations already impact the way your customers interact with your products and services. The question is how.

In many cases, organizations develop internal systems and processes with internal concerns in mind (cost, efficiency, a desire to maintain existing departmental boundaries, and so on). They don’t always stop to consider how those operational decisions will impact the customer’s “front stage” experience. When that happens, the result is a customer experience riddled with unnecessary friction.

Consider the following scenario: A customer calls her insurer’s customer support line to get information about a recent claim. Rather than quickly connecting with an agent and getting an answer to her simple question, the customer is shuttled from one representative to another. Each time, she has to re-verify her identity using the same details and repeat her question. Operationally, this game of hot potato may make sense. But from the customer’s perspective, it couldn’t be more frustrating or inefficient.

Service design mapping enables your organization to adopt a more holistic perspective by creating a service design blueprint that connects the dots between your internal operations and your customer experience. Specifically, service design mapping allows you to:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of how you internally deliver products, services, and digital experiences to your customers — and how those internal workings impact the end user’s experience.
  • Identify gaps and pain points in the backend employee experience.
  • Uncover the root causes of persistent CX issues — and pinpoint possible solutions.
  • Reduce or eliminate redundancies in internal processes.
  • Develop a business case to improve your internal systems (with the ultimate goal of improving your customer experience).
  • Build internal alignment around new and improved processes — and formally document those processes for training purposes.
  • Increase efficiency and improve your customer experience.

How to Build a Service Design Blueprint

A service design map or blueprint is very similar to a customer journey map. While a customer journey map plots every possible customer touchpoint, a service design blueprint documents the discrete internal activities that occur as your organization delivers a product or service. There is a lot of inevitable overlap between a customer journey map and a service design blueprint. However, a service design blueprint’s focus is on the internal workflows or “backstage” components that support the customer at each step.

In many cases, it makes sense to start with a customer journey map, then build a service design blueprint on top of it. The customer journey map can serve as a baseline for your service design blueprint.

Service design mapping is an interdisciplinary project. In order to fully document the way your team delivers a product, service, or digital experience, you’ll need the input of each team that plays a part, however small. The good news? The time you spend together discussing each department’s unique systems and processes can give your entire team a greater understanding of how the various pieces fit together. You may also find that previously unseen gaps and trouble spots are suddenly glaringly obvious.

At the end of the day, your “front stage” customer experience is only as strong as the “backstage” internal systems that support it. With service design mapping, you can optimize your organization’s operations — and take your healthcare customer experience to the next level.

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