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Service blueprinting

Overview

Service blueprinting helps you visualise the full processes and infrastructure required to deliver a service.

Also known as

The tool

 Originally developed by Lynne Shostack (Harvard Business Review, 1984), service blueprinting helps you visualise the full processes and infrastructure required to deliver a service.

A service blueprint shows all activities which happen at each stage of a user’s journey, identifying the various roles and resources which are required. This includes interactions the user has with the service as well as activities which happen in the background (or, in service blueprint speak, ‘backstage’). Interactions recorded in the blueprint include both human-to-human and human-to-technology.

Service blueprint is not an ideation tool, rather it is used to analyse and plan a service in detail.

An individual service blueprint is required for each discrete customer journey. As customer journeys may vary within a single service, you may require multiple blueprints if there are several different scenarios the service design needs to accommodate.

Template

The following diagram is a service blueprinting template with additional annotations including lines and arrows.
Example of a service blueprinting template with additional annotations including lines and arrows.

In addition to the elements listed in the previous diagram, you may wish to incorporate the following information into your blueprint:

  • Arrows
    • Use these to indicate key relationships and interdependencies.
    • Use a single arrow to indicate a linear, one-way exchange, and a double arrow to show where there are co-dependencies and where agreement is needed.
  • Time
    • How long does each action (particularly user actions) take within the blueprint?
  • Regulations or policies
    • Which regulations or policies you need to take into account.
    • This information will help you to visualise what can and cannot be changed.
  • Emotions
    • In addition to showing a user’s emotional responses during their journey, you may wish to record employees’ emotions.
    • Where are employees frustrated? Where are employees happy and motivated? This will help you identify ‘pain points’ in both the customer/user and employee journeys.

Why use it

  • Service blueprints provide you with a comprehensive understanding of a service and the underlying resources and processes which make delivery of that service possible. These process my or may not be visible to the user.
  • Blueprints make explicit cross-functional relationships and make sure activities occuring in view of the user (frontstage processes) and activities that occur out of sight (backstage processes) are aligned.
  • Blueprints help you to identify areas of weakness in service delivery and/or identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Blueprinting is particularly useful when trying to coordinate services which cross internal and external organisational boundaries.
  • Allows you to see:
    • How a current service operates.
    • Envision how a future service might operate.

When to use it

  • Use service blueprinting in the develop stage of your service design journey.

How to use it

Although service blueprints may vary in style, they will all contain the following elements:

  • Actions taken by the user
    • These include the actions and choices the user makes, and the interactions the user has with the service as they progress towards their ultimate goal.
    • The information used to complete this part of the service blueprint may be lifted from a customer journey map or from other research.
  • A Frontstage
    • The Frontstage is everything the user / costumer can see. This includes both human-to-human interactions as well as human-to-computer interactions (e.g. through self-service technology).
  • A Backstage
    • The Backstage includes everything that happens out of sight of the user but that is required to support everything happening frontstage.
    • Backstage activities include things a frontstage employee does out of sight as well as anything done by people who never come into view of the user. 
  • Processes
    • These are the steps and interactions employees take to delivering the service to the user.
  • Lines of interaction and visibility
    • A first line of interaction divides the direct interactions between the user and the organisation from other activities.
    • A line of visibility splits the service activities that are visible to the customer from those that are not visible. Everything frontstage (visible) appears above this line, while everything backstage (not visible) appears below this line.
    • A second line of interaction separates employees who have direct contact with the user from those who do not.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Similar to

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Example(s)

Additional information

  • [KS – Link to template?]