The best cities, buildings, vehicles, and products are often the ones that have been thoughtfully and purposefully designed.
Often, designers work with the community and end users to discover, plan and prepare what will be needed at every stage of construction, during deployment, during delivery, and the after-launch experience. Designers will also plan to accommodate the different users’ needs at each stage.
Think of the process of designing a building: artifacts in the form of blueprints are created to capture plumbing, electrical, air flow, networks, layout and floor plans, wayfinding maps, and more.
These blueprints become important artifacts to guarantee that construction and use of the building are effective, efficient, satisfactory, and meet all of the requirements and building codes.
Similar to designing buildings, designing successful services involves creating blueprints and maps describing the people, processes, and technologies involved in the delivery of the service, and the relationships among them that will guarantee a meaningful end-to-end service experience for everyone involved.
In this article we’ll cover:
- What Service Blueprints are
- How Service Blueprints are produced
- Akendi’s free Service Blueprint download
One of the most popular artifacts associated with Service Design is the Service Blueprint. This blueprint captures what happens or needs to happen during the delivery of the service at different levels, going from the high-level actions of the users at each stage of their journey through the service down to the supporting actors and processes required to allow users to have a continuous meaningful experience.
Service Blueprints focus on communicating the resources, structure and processes necessary to support the users and staff as they use and deliver the service. While Service Blueprints capture some components usually captured in Experience Maps, Service Blueprints provide richer detail of what happens behind the scenes, with the intent of helping the organization plan their internal structure and identify necessary supporting processes and third parties.
Components in a Service Blueprint
A Service Blueprint usually takes the form of a set of swim lanes with information at different levels of visibility for the user. Here are the most common lanes in a Service Blueprint:
The Service Lifecycle
The first lane in the blueprint gives the sense of progression through the service experience to all the other lanes as it lists the stages of the service the users go through. It can be general or specific based on the service domain and the level of detail intended. Some phases could be: need, explore options, select restaurant, navigate, menu selection, order, wait, consume, pay, review.
This lane describes what the user/customer hopes to accomplish at each stage of the lifecycle, i.e. the purpose of their actions. Goals can expand to multiple stages of the lifecycle, and sometimes be as high level as the stage in the lifecycle. Examples of goals are: find a budget friendly accommodation, find a comfortable flight option, sign up for a course, get a boarding pass, solve a technical issue, pay a bill.
These are the steps and tasks performed by the user of the service to accomplish each specific goal. For example: contact customer service, choose a flight, choose a seat, reserve room, order food, check in, check bag, pay, check out, write a review.
This lane captures how the user and the service provider communicate/interact with each other. It is usually divided in two lanes.
- Digital & Physical tools: these are the business tools/mediums used to interface with the user. For example: mobile app, website, automated call system, parking meter, ticket dispenser, ATM, interactive map, credit card machine, kiosk.
- Human (Staff) Actions: these are actions performed by front-end staff, sometimes, in response to some user action, sometimes initiated internally. Examples of staff actions are: greet customer, confirm booking, present menu, explain details, take order, check bag, serve meal.
This lane captures the internal structure and processes supporting the delivery of the service. What happens below this lane is not visible to the end user. Depending on the size of the organization and complexity of the service, the components in this lane can be divided in two by a line of internal visibility: a) one with the components that are visible within the organization, and b) another one with those that are external and fall behind what staff can see.
- Backstage actions: This lane describes the actions performed by the organization staff. For example: update system, take order to kitchen, place order in system, prepare food, process payment, get parcel out of storage.
- Supporting processes: Companies, entities and systems supporting the service delivery. Not always visible to the company. For example: booking system, tables management system, survey system, payment system, food delivery company, cleaning company.
Metrics & Opportunities
This final lane lists the measures of the service used to inform success at each stage of the lifecycle and the opportunities for improvement or innovation. These metrics can measure the user’s experience but also the staff’s experience. Examples of metrics are: number of guests attending, number of likes, wait time, number of calls received, satisfaction ratings, number of complaints per week.
Examples of opportunities, sometimes associated with metrics, can be: reduce wait time, increase staff available, improve details available online to avoid calls, create promotional material to increase interest, improve package for better unboxing reviews.
I hope this was a useful introduction to Service Design! To get started on your own Service Blueprint, download our FREE template.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Want to learn more about Service Design? Akendi’s Service Design Course is a great place to start. Upcoming course dates: London, UK May 1 | Ottawa, Canada May 15 | Toronto, Canada June 12 | London, UK July 3
Hamilton dreams of a world where technology allows humans to reach maximum potential in meaningful and enjoyable ways. Coming from a Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) background, Hamilton has spent over a decade of his life advocating for the thoughtful and meaningful design of services and systems that truly satisfy and support humans through their daily lives. He believes in user-centric research and design methods and puts them in practice every time he faces challenges in a wide set of domains.