What is it?

Service blueprint is a visual schematic of any interaction, support systems, infrastructure or event that affects the service provided to the user in any way. It incorporates the perspectives of the user alongside the service provider and other important groups. They may be visible to the user and be a touchpoint or it may be a behind the scene interactions that only the service provider is aware of.

A good way to imagine this is by thinking about a live theatre performance. The audience enjoys a show which appears to happen seamlessly, but behind the scenes there are many people running around making sure everything appears effortless to the audience. Similarly, in service design, the end user engages with certain user-facing touch points, but these things are supported by a network of infrastructure that supports a seamless user journey.

Purpose of service blueprints

It can be used as an extension of customer journey maps. As details of the whole service are listed, it can help identify areas of inefficiency, or duplication that can be changed or adapted to improve the overall service experience. The blueprint also helps you understand all aspects of the service making it easier to implement and maintain the service or prototype a new service. Finally, this can be a tool for stakeholder engagement. By seeing a holistic map, different players can see how they ought to best work together or potential areas of improvement.

How to do this?

A service blueprint is created based heavily on a customer journey map as well as user research, personas, empathy maps and other information gathered.

This can be done roughly using sketches, sticky notes, markers, mural paper or other basic equipment before a cleaner blueprint is created on a computer.

  • Service and user: Identify the main service to be blueprinted and the user that is being served. This will mainly be based off the customer journey map.
  • Perspectives: Highlight the customer perspective of the service as well as the perspective of the service provider. The customer perspective would have been done through the customer journey map, but now with the service providers actions and thoughts.
  • Main rows: For each row write one action on a sticky note and begin placing them in the flow of the service, as determined in the customer journey map. These should be described as actions in the present tense.
    • Physical evidence (touchpoint): The top row is anything the user interacts with, whether it is seeing, smelling, touching or hearing. The evidence could be webpages, signs, forms or an object. This is organized in chronological order of the service and acts as the top timeline.
    • Customer actions: Any client action that results in them interacting with the physical evidence or acting in response to the evidence. Actions that customers take to move from one touchpoint to another (apply for a credit card).
    • Frontstage: The actions performed by the service provider that are visible to the user (send a credit card).
    • Backstage: The actions performed by the service provider that are not visible to the user. For example, creating a credit card with customers name on it (register user info and tie to their new credit card).
    • Supporting actions: Any actions that occur backstage that are not unique to the core service like marketing.
  • Dividing lines
    • Line of interaction: This line represents where the user and service provider interact with their actions and lies in between the customer actions and frontstage.
    • Line of visibility: This line represents what actions are visible to the user and that they are aware of; it lies between the backstage and frontstage.
    • Line of internal interaction: This line represents the interactions that occur between the service provider and supporting groups, or within the service providers organization; it lies in between the backstage and supporting actions.
  • Layout and linking: After the actions have been all identified and written out, place them in order of how the service flows, and link them using arrows to see the connection between different actions. Have physical evidence be the top row and acting as a timeline, then customer actions, frontstage, backstage, and supporting actions in that order. The important part is incorporating all the pieces, the touchpoints, actions, and connections. This can then be refined or digitized into a layout that you find more desirable.
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