Many a time, organizations with good products or services tend to face low customer satisfaction ratings, or worse, financial losses, as a result of poorly defined processes. Communication lapse, inadequate training, failure to determine appropriate stakeholders for process milestones--the reasons can range from a minor chink in the process to a major oversight. Similarly, it is not just end-customers, even employees, at times, face severe inconveniences if an organization does not follow well-defined processes.
Take for example the case of Zylker Inc. An internal survey conducted by the management revealed that newly recruited employees were dissatisfied with the onboarding process. It was discovered that the first few weeks were problematic because some employees did not receive workplace essentials, such as access cards, chairs, and laptops, whereas others did. A deeper probe by the management brought to light the fact that there were some communication gaps between the different departments involved in onboarding new employees - the hiring manager, the HR team, admin team, and sys admin team.
How could this problem, which involves a lot of manual, offline work, be solved? With a mechanism that helps streamline, record, and track the different activities associated with a process and the different process milestones.
But before that, how does one nail the very process itself? How does one make sure that the process continues to be efficient even when more and more users are introduced into the system? In short, what qualities make a process truly effective?
An effective process must be:
- Comprehensive - All aspects of the end-user/customer experience cycle must be covered end to end.
- Clearly defined - The various process milestones, the activities to perform, the stakeholder who must perform each activity, the action to take according to the outcome of each activity, and all such critical areas must be defined and documented.
- Consistently repeatable - The documentation must be clear enough so that any new user in the system can easily follow it and implement. This documentation is critical because it also reduces the time and effort to invest in educating new users about the process.
These are the qualities that Zoho Desk's new feature, Blueprint, aims to impart to your processes -- and as a result, help overcome the challenges that arise due to poorly defined processes.
What is a Blueprint?
A Blueprint is a software-based rendition of a process from real life. A Blueprint resembles a simple flowchart but is much more dynamic and detailed. Multiple users/teams can be involved in executing a single Blueprint, or a single user/team can execute an entire Blueprint.
Each Blueprint is made of three key components:
- States: The different phases/milestones in the process
- Transitions: The intermediate phase between two states. Activities that users must perform to progress from one state to another are defined here.
- Connectors: Components that define the relationship between different states and transitions
With Blueprint, you can ensure that your business processes are well-defined, streamlined, and error-free. Additionally, you can ensure that all processes are in line with business plans. What more? You can also easily monitor the progression of your processes and intervene when required.
Blueprint Usage - An Example
Let us look at how a Blueprint enhances operations at the help desk of a travel agency.
Zylker Inc. is a tour operator that organizes both domestic and international tours for individuals and organizations. They specialize in providing end-to-end travel services, including booking hotels, applying for/renewing passports, applying for a visa, preparing tour itineraries, making special arrangements for senior/differently-abled citizens, arranging forex, etc.
One of Zylker's tour packages, Premium, provides customized international tour plans and requires minimal effort from the customer in planning the tour. When a customer signs up for a Premium package, first, a Zylker personnel visits the residence of the customer to gather all essential information, including the number of travelers, the basic personal details of each traveler, the validity of the passports, places of interest, and the number of days on tour.
After collecting these details, the Zylker personnel goes back to the office and updates the documents team, planning team, and travel desk.
The documents team checks the travel documents submitted and takes the next steps, based on the availability/validity of the passports. If all travelers have valid passports, the process progresses to the next stage, which is visa processing. If new passports need to be applied for or existing passports need to be renewed, the team takes the next steps and gets in touch with the customer to find out the dates on which they would be available for filing a passport application/renewal.
After validating the passports, the documents team passes on details of the customer to the planning team. Since the Premium package involves a customized tour, a planning executive then visits the customer to find out their tour preferences and places of interest. The executive drafts a tour plan, based on the information gathered and sends the plan to the visa processing team.
The visa processing team takes over the process from there and evaluates the visa requirements for the tour. This includes information, such as the number of countries to visit, the visa type in each country - standard visa or visa-on-arrival, and so on. After processing the visa requirements and making arrangements for visa application on behalf of the customer, the process shifts to the travel desk.
The travel desk, after verifying if all travel documents and tour plan are in place, contacts the customer to understand their travel preferences, which include the class of travel, dietary restrictions, hotel rooms, and preferred route if multiple routes are available. After gathering all essential information, the travel desk books the tickets and notifies the Zylker office/operations partner in the destination country, who would attend to the customer the moment they arrive and make sure the tour goes smoothly. All that the customer would have to do is pack their bags and go ahead to enjoy their vacation.
A lengthy process like Zylker's Premium package, which involves multiple stakeholders and touch-points working offline, can benefit greatly from a Blueprint. Let us see how.
Premium requires the following steps to be performed:
- Collecting traveler information
- Processing travel documents
- Applying for a visa
- Drafting tour plan
- Booking flight tickets and hotel rooms
- Receiving guests at the destination country
- Executing the tour
In the Blueprint for Zylker's Premium package:
- The different steps in the process are documented as states.
- The activities that Zylker personnel perform are defined as transitions.
- The progression from one state to another, based on the outcome of the current state, are defined using connectors.
- The different personnel/teams that perform the transitions are designated as transition owners.
For a comprehensive guide on how to create a Blueprint, refer to this article.
How the Blueprint is Executed
The Blueprint is first configured such that it is automatically applied to any ticket with a request for the Premium package. As a result, whenever a customer signs up for a Premium package, the request is recorded as a ticket in Zylker Inc's help desk and the Blueprint is automatically applied. So, the individual ticket detail page is where all Blueprint-related action happens.
The Status field in the ticket is mapped to the different states in the Blueprint. Therefore, the Status field in the ticket is locked and not manually changeable. After the transition owner performs the transition associated, the Status field is automatically updated to display the next state in the Blueprint. The state keeps changing as the subsequent transitions are performed.
In such a scenario, Zylker Inc's customer support manager can easily track the progress made in a particular request, just by viewing the ticket. Similarly, the different stakeholders involved in the process can also be held accountable because they are designated as transition owners.
Thus, with this Blueprint implemented in their help desk, Zylker Inc. can now deliver a consistent experience for all customers, ensure all employees take ownership for the activities they perform, and easily keep track of the progress for each customer.