The Service Blueprint method is mainly used to manage service operations and to innovate products, the touchpoints with the customer and thus the customer experience. Since the name refers to the blueprint of a building, this visual quality is maintained in the Service Blueprint method’s structure. The outcome chronologically maps the processes of the experience before, during and after a service between all involved, including processes and physical or digital touchpoints.
Name: Service Blueprint
Partner organization: Technische Universität Dresden
Authors: This method was described in 1984 by Lynn Shostack (https://hbr.org/1984/01/designing-services-that-deliver) and today is used mainly to manage service operations, service design and service positioning. At TU Dresden the Chair of Industrial Design Engineering is using the method frequently in workshop settings to connect technology, services, and to innovate products and their touchpoints with customers, so enhancing their experience. The method has been adapted to different contexts and consequently used in seminars.
Aims: The aims of the original Service Blueprint method are the improvement of customer experience as increase of a service’s quality and decrease of it’s touchpoints and the reveal and order of complex multi-layered processes. It was repurposed to use it in different contexts – for example in contexts of teaching. Other fields of adaptation are e.g. curation.
Time: At least 90 minutes depending on the complexity of the customer touchpoints with the product/service.
Original Context: The original context to improve existing service structure has been adapted multiple times and currently variants of the Service Blueprint are used to describe customer-service relationships in innovation processes for new projects. With respect to the increased entanglement of product and services as a consequence of increased digitization, Service Blueprints are and will be adapted to innovation processes in product-service-systems (PSS) in design workshop situations as well as in teaching contexts for hands-on PSS development.
Group: Groups of no more than 6 people.
Resources needed: A collaborative digital platform that enables creative multimedia group work and group communication via video. During our online workshops and lectures we use a combination of MIRO and Zoom. MIRO already offers visual structures ready to use as a classical Service Blueprint.
Potential application/ adaptation: The entanglement of product and service as well as the idea of a front and back office and connected visibility of processes for the user/customer are basics that are of value for other areas as well. This method may be hacked by purposefully revealing parts of the processes that were previously invisible to the user. E.g. in order to develop transparent and understandable AI, the functionality of the algorithms have to be made visible and understandable. Hence, the user needs to comprehend and understand what is happening to enable machine processes and solutions.
This method’s origin lies in setting up services for businesses. Therefore, the Service Blueprint method maps all processes of the business and puts the customer experience at the heart of the business activity. It can also be used to revise existing services and therefore enables agile responses to customers and their needs.
Since the name Blueprint refers to the blueprint of a building, this visual quality is maintained in its structure: The outcome of the Service Blueprint method chronologically maps the processes of the experience before, during and after the service between all involved persons, processes and physical or digital touchpoints. There are two main areas: the front office – with customer and service activities – and the back office – with internal and external processes in the background. While processes in the front office are visible to everyone, the structure and processes of the back office are not visible for customers and can be separated into different departments – just like the business is in reality.
The aims of the Service Blueprint method are the improvement of customer experience as increase of quality and decrease of touchpoints and the reveal and order of complex multi-layered processes. The method can be considered not only as a strategic tool, but also as a tool for collective empathy, so enabling better understanding of the customers’ perspective of the system.
The method may be used digitally. However, a physical presence is recommended.