What are Service Blueprints​?

Summary: A Service Blueprint is the visual map you use to specify and execute a service. Like a Journey Map, it shows customer journey stages with corresponding dependencies from ‘BackStage to Front Stage’. It is important to remember that Service Blueprints are a planning document that brings stakeholders’ contributions together. Blueprints are based on user research and value proposition modeling. They are used as a “living document” to prioritize and manage the execution of service design interventions and improvements.

A Service Blueprint documents what customers experience (front stage), what employees do, and what background systems support all that (backstage). 

  • Frontstage: This layer represents the customer-facing interactions that occur across channels eg. website, customer service, and in-store experience.
  • Backstage: This layer represents the internal processes and employee actions supporting frontstage interactions, such as customer service, sales, marketing, and logistics.
  • Support: This layer represents the resources enabling backstage processes, such as policies, technologies, data, and vendors.

Service blueprints are visual representations that illustrate the step-by-step processes involved in delivering a service. Blueprints highlight the front-stage customer interactions and employee backstage operational activities. They provide a comprehensive view of the service experience, including touchpoints, channels, roles, and responsibilities of employees, and potential pain points. By mapping out the service journey end to end, service blueprints enable businesses to identify areas for improvement, streamline operations, and enhance customer satisfaction. In short, they govern a smooth, precise, and pleasantly efficient service. 

Here is an example Service Blueprint of a smart thermostat from Frank Spillers’ UX Inner Circle workshop on Service Blueprints:

How does a Service Blueprint process start?

  1. First, Service Blueprinting starts with User Research (typically Ethnography and Service Safaris), generating a Journey Map. Note: Service Design relies on workshops to engage stakeholders. So, the Journey Map is socialized (and co-created) in a workshop. Personas may be generated as well. 
  2. In parallel, business models and value propositions are mapped on visual canvases. Again, a workshop brings together the dismantling of silos or channel-specific ownership.
  3. Next, the Service Blueprint workshop creates a visual document that will capture interactions, pain points, and service essentials. Touchpoint mapping helps surface interactions between customers, channels, or employees. At Experience Dynamics, we recommend spending time on the design of Moments (the place and time that touchpoints happen within the stage of a journey). Moments represent Moments of Truth- make or break emotional reflections. 

The Value of Service Blueprints

Service blueprints should help you map out the steps between the Front to Backstage, including identifying challenges in delivery and execution. For example, in a recent Experience Dynamics client project*, our service required a certain type of employee that did not exist. Showing how many interactions this employee played allowed us to define and refine the role, a force multiplier of value. 

*See the case study: Service Design makes sustainable mobility a reality

The key benefits and business value of service blueprints include the following…

Service Blueprints and business outcomes.

  1. Enhanced Efficiency: Service blueprints help businesses identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks in their service delivery processes. By visualizing the entire service journey, organizations can pinpoint areas where delays or redundancies occur, enabling them to streamline operations and eliminate unnecessary steps. This increased efficiency leads to cost savings, reduced waste, and optimized resource allocation.
  2. Improved Customer Satisfaction: Customers today expect seamless and personalized experiences. They also choose channels of their choice, not yours. Service blueprints enable businesses to identify pain points and areas where customer needs may be overlooked or unmet. Organizations can enhance customer satisfaction by addressing these pain points and optimizing the service process, increasing loyalty, positive word-of-mouth, and higher customer lifetime value.
  3. Consistent Service Delivery: Service blueprints ensure consistency in service delivery by providing a standardized framework that outlines the desired customer experience. By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of employees and establishing standard operating procedures, organizations can ensure that customers receive consistent service across different touchpoints and channels. Consistency builds trust and helps create a strong brand reputation.

Service Blueprints help organizational goals.

  1. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Service blueprints encourage cross-functional collaboration by bringing together teams from different departments to understand the end-to-end service journey collectively. This collaborative approach fosters a shared understanding of customer needs and pain points, breaking down silos and promoting a customer-centric mindset throughout the organization. The result is a more coordinated and cohesive service delivery process.
  2. Employee Empowerment: Service blueprints provide a holistic view of the service journey, including the roles and responsibilities of employees involved at each stage. Designing clear employee roles helps create more deliberate motivation for employees to propel service experiences forward. Engaged and empowered employees are more likely to deliver exceptional service and go the extra mile to exceed customer expectations.
  3. Agile Service Design: Service blueprints enable businesses to prioritize pain points and opportunities for improvement, facilitating agile service design and faster iterations. Note: User Research is a must; pain points can not be imagined; they need to be observed.  

Service Blueprints can provide differentiated UX.

  1. Innovation and Differentiation: Service blueprints can uncover opportunities for innovation and differentiation. Organizations can develop innovative solutions and unique value propositions by analyzing the customer journey and identifying novel omnichannel solutions to unmet needs.
  2. Uncovering intangible value. One key area that goes underlooked is intangible value. Intangibles are vital ROI-generators that are often not visible, difficult to anticipate, and tricky to measure. Examples include emotional value, greater equity, or better decision-making by a product-service delivery team. 

Let’s summarize some key aspects of managing a Service Blueprint.

Managing your Service Blueprint process

Your Service Blueprint is not a static output of a workshop. It becomes a living, breathing document that you use to prioritize and manage the execution of the service. To roll out your service, first engage in a Service prototyping workshop and test the service with employees and end-users. 

Next, when you go into a Service Design process, do not decide on channel or solution areas before you finish a Service Blueprint. Customers, in particular, will not bend to your channel experience just because it has a good UX. They might want to approach a channel of their choice for their reasons. For this reason, start your Service Design project agnostic of channel or solution/platform. 

So critical: before you start your Service Blueprint, get ownership of the process and document and a deployment owner and team. The same governance advice goes for Journey Mapping since you can see a Service Blueprint as a sister process of Journey Maps. It’s not enough to create a Service Blueprint and then cherry-pick what you like or don’t like. 

Whatever you do, do not create a Service Blueprint on your own. It is a team effort for the key reasons of dislodging silos and boosting collaborative intelligence. 

Conclusion

Service blueprints offer significant business value by providing organizations with a comprehensive view of their service processes and customer journeys. By mapping out and optimizing these processes, businesses can enhance efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and differentiate themselves from the competition. With the ability to identify pain points, enable agile service design, empower employees, and foster cross-functional collaboration, service blueprints are a powerful tool for experience design.  

Get help: Service Design consulting

Get training: Service Blueprint training

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