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Payless Shoe Source is a discount footwear retailer with over 4,572 retail stores in 15 countries. This company does not only focus on providing different fashion possibilities for the family at a great price, but distinguishes themselves by offering an engaging, easy-to-shop experience and outstanding customer service. Our group chose this company to blueprint because it has a very elaborate customer service process.

This company focuses heavily on providing the customer with a great shopping experience by following a series of “critical actions” that must be delivered to one hundred percent of the customers during their journey in the store. In addition, one of our group members works in this company and therefore, it would be easier to grasp an in depth understanding of the service process and be able to have easier access to all the information we needed.

When shopping at the store, the customer goes through five different steps in their shopping experience. The company calls this process the “customer journey,” consisting of the following stages: Enter, Browse, Try-on, Check-out, and Walk-out. When the customer approaches the store, the customer is impacted by the store’s physical evidence for the first time. The first physical evidence the customer comes across is the store’s outer appearance. They may ask themselves does the store look in good condition and/or is it open.

Once they get that established, they notice the parking lot to see if there are any available spaces to park and also if it’s clean. Once they park, the first thing they see on the store is big posters on the windows. The store always has advertisements on the windows to show customers what sales they have going on during that time. The sale posters alone can influence a customer to walk in the store and that alone can make a customer walk in the store with certain expectations, such as prices and brands. As the customer walks in the store, the Enter stage begins.

The customer walks into a lobby area, which contains a little jewelry/sunglasses section slightly to the side and in front of them, there are displays of the latest or “hottest” shoes for customers to view at first. To the left or right wall of the store, there would be handbags/purses for the customer to see, many which match certain shoes. Payless Shoesource as the name says it, is mainly to shop for shoes, but all these extra items that the customers come across in their shopping experience influence a customer who initially went in for a pair of shoes to walk out with two or three extra items, or ccessories they might not even need or did not realize they needed. Once the lobby area has been viewed, the customers are offered assistance and are directed to their size. If they are shopping for children, an associate offers to measure the child’s feet and then directs them to the kid’s aisle. This is where the Browse stage begins. The aisles are divided by men’s, women, and children. The aisles containing the shoes should be well-organized, put in correct order by size and department, and should be color-coded. This helps the customer and employees to find things easier.

In this stage of the customer journey, an associate approaches the customer and initiates interaction. The salesperson asks the customer an open ended question such as, “What type of shoes are you looking for today” to better understand the customer’s needs. The associate then suggests the customer styles for them to try on and helps them find the right size. Furthermore, in this stage the associate also ensures that the customer understands the promotion that the store has in case they were not yet given that information at the Enter stage.

If a certain style is not found in the aisles, the associate checks the inventory system (support process) with a handheld computer device called a scanner. With this device the associate can check inventory, prices, and in what other payless locations the shoe is in stock. This device is very important physical evidence because it can influence a customer’s experience positively. This allows the employees to give a faster and more accurate service. After the customer begins trying on shoes, the associate goes back to check on the customer and delivers the critical actions for the try-on stage.

This stage is very important because the company has determined that sixty-four percent of customers who try on shoes make a purchase. The associate begins by complementing their selection. This can change the sixty-six percent to eighty-eight after a customer receives follow-up. The associate then offers the customer a second style or a matching accessory to increase the units per transaction. Once the customer picks the products they want to buy, the associate offers to take the shoes to the registers which are at the front of the store, where the Check-out stage begins.

In the beginning of the transaction a customer is asked for personal information such as name, address, and email address that is input in to the registration system in the support process. This data is stored and used for marketing purposes and comes up every time the customer shops in the store, allowing for a more personalized service. The cashier then proceeds by checking that the correct shoe mates are taken. This is done verbally to reassure that the customer is taking what they want and to avoid any returns.

Underneath the registers, are shoelaces and shoe care merchandise for the customer to purchase at last minute. In the Check-out stage, these items are offered by the cashier because the company determined that one out of five attempts to sell additional items at the register is successful. The shoe care merchandiser influences the customers experience because they are strategically placed to create additional needs to consumers, making them purchase at the last minute. This helps the company, but it also satisfies the customer because they now have an item that can improve the life of their product.

Finally, the customer is thanked and invited back. The last stage of the customer journey is the Walk-Out stage. This is whenever a customer is leaving the store without making a purchase. An associate stops the customer and asks then an open-ended question, such as “Did you find everything you were looking for. ” Many times an associate prevents the customer from leaving and directs them back to the aisles for further help and may actually save a sale. If not, they give the customer a reason to come back by informing them of an upcoming promotion or the day new shipment arrives.

Of course, even the best process has potential fail points where problems may occur and/or bottlenecks where backups or slow delivery may occur. There are three different types we can identify. The first bottleneck is the handling of uncooperative customers. All the critical actions that the service employees need to deliver during the customer journey require cooperation from both ends; the customer and the firm’s employees. Customer participation is crucial in effectively delivering all aspects of the service delivery the company wishes to give all of its customers.

However, sometimes the company comes across “difficult” customers, or often called “get out of my face” customers that can slow the delivery process or even cause a fail point. There are times that customers do not want to be offered assistance and they will either keep walking, ignoring the salesperson, or they will respond with a quick phrase like, “I am just looking. ” For instance, during the Browse stage, the employee is required to interact with the customer.

If they are explaining the current promotion to the customer, but a customer refuses to respond to the employees help by not listening to them, then this part of the service deliver creates a fail point if the associate gives up or it makes the process slow down is the associate later attempts to explain the same information once again during a different stage, to avoid the customer arriving at the register not understanding the promotion. Another instance would be at the Enter stage, where the associate offers to measure children’s feet.

It is the salesperson’s job to deliver this critical action, however how successful this is also depends on the customer’s participation. If a customer does not allow the associate to measure their child’s feet, then the whole purpose of this part of the service delivery fails because the associate will not be able to give the customer this service. The purpose of doing this is to allow the associates to interact with the children as well as the parents in order to create a pleasurable experience for the whole family.

This is a service that many competitors don’t offer, so it is a competitive advantage. The only solution to this bottleneck is for the front line managers to exercise continuous training with their employees. This will help them gain ease in talking to customer in general. It will provide the associates with practice that will help them learn to enhance customer participation and to effectively deliver good service. That way if a customer shuts down an associate, the associate will be trained to not give up and instead exercise the learned ways to gain a customer’s trust.

Unenthusiastic employees are another fail point we identified. Employee’s unwillingness to participate in delivering the customer service can be a potential fail point in the service delivery process. Uncooperative employees can be the result of a variety of things. The first is that the company was involved in an ineffective hiring process. Another is that the company failed to exercise proper training. The employee must be trained to switch from tasks to customer service whenever a customer walks in.

Fortunately, this fail point is somewhat controllable by the company. To avoid this, the company should hire the right people from the start. A solution is for the company to develop strategies to determine who is right for this position. Another alternative is to treat their employee’s right. The company must know when to reward their employees and must provide motivation that will drive them to try their best. A third fail point identified is out of stock merchandise. Not meeting the demands of the ustomers can be a big problem that can lead to many lost sales. The solution to this is to exercise more effective communication during the support process where the manufacturer sends the merchandise to the pool point and from there it is sent to the store, and it is received and input into the inventory system. Every time an associate uses the inventory to search for a shoe and prints out a receipt for the customer to go to another location is valuable information that should be used in benefit of the company.

This is additional information that should be considered when making the inventory and should be effectively and accurately communicated within the support process to successfully meet the specific demands of customers. A service blueprint not only allows for a quantitative description of critical service elements, such as time, logical sequences of actions and processes, but also specifies both actions/events that happen in the time and place of the interaction and actions/events that are out of the “line of visibility” for the users, but are fundamental for the service.

With the realization of the importance and the domination of services in the world’s economies, there is a growing emphasis in business practice on creating meaningful, memorable customer experiences. Payless Shoe Source has reinvented itself and repositioned its brand as a business that is as passionate about helping customers as they are about the products they sell. By using a detailed service blueprint, Payless can strengthen its Marketing, HR Management, and Operations areas and achieve a stronger bond with its customers.

The company’s blueprint showcases key points where customers are more attracted to, spend more time at, and are more likely to focus on promotions, ads, and its products. This will especially be helpful to the stores’ “extensive media plan. ” Measuring the stores traffic in customers, sales, and productivity, the company develops the plan which determines what amount of advertising impressions would be the most effective in T. V, radio, magazine, and newspapers. It was this plan that led them to be awarded the “2006 Marketer of the Year” by Footwear News among other recognitions. Another important aspect of the organization is its’ employees.

Payless is proud of its associates and has a culture that encourages personal, informal feedback between all employees and includes programs in its stores and corporate offices to recognize excellence by individuals and teams. Through the blueprint Payless can evaluate associates, their relationships with customers, and manage their Development, Recognition, and Compensation Programs. For example the quarterly and annual Pinnacle Awards program recognizes top store and district performers in their three regions. Payless is also an organization looking to innovate their service to customers.

Its store operations are a critical, important area in its service process. A blueprint will be helpful to create performance standards for workload scenarios, improve alignment among key business functions, and implement new technologies where needed the most. An example of how payless optimized it’s workforce was the creation of KRONOS. Kronos is a an integrated, analytical workforce management system which pulls data from various sources such as the POS, traffic counters, supply chain systems, and associate preferences to create automated, optimized work schedules.

Through this assignment we learned how significant a service blueprint can be to an organization for it to be successful among its customers. The blueprint allows firms to visualize the service process, points of customer contact, and the physical evidence associated with their services from their customers’ perspective. The uniqueness of this technique is its continuous focus on the customer as the center and foundation for innovation, service improvement, and experience design. That doesn’t mean that customers are the source of innovation, but rather that value to the customer is the central purpose of innovation.

The service blueprint helps firms improve and innovate their service and create a “customer-focused” design for the firm, which in turn increases customer retention, creates a competitive advantage and mainly increases brand equity. Payless Shoesource is a perfect example of how a blueprint can be successfully used to innovate, improve, and communicate the firms’ philosophy of great service to its customers.

Works Cited Bharat Book Bureau. February 2009. 5 July 2010 http://g51studio. com/parsons/ServiceBlueprinting