GuidesUser experience (UX)The ultimate guide to service blueprints

The ultimate guide to service blueprints

Last updated

27 February 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

A service blueprint is a powerful tool to help businesses design and deliver outstanding user experiences.

By mapping out the end-to-end process of delivering a service—from the customer’s perspective to the behind-the-scenes activities and processes involved—service blueprints provide a comprehensive view of how a business delivers its services.

Whether you’re an experienced service designer or you’re just starting to think about customer experience, this post will provide a valuable understanding of how service blueprints can help you create and deliver exceptional services.

Discover the key elements of a service blueprint, the benefits of using one, and the steps involved in creating your own.

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What is a service blueprint?

The average business has many moving parts. Several departments play a role in creating the customer’s experience from when they first hear about your company to when they receive their order.

Often, businesses think of these departments as individual elements. However, a service blueprint is a representation of the entire customer journey and all the moving parts that contribute to providing it. The blueprint provides a detailed overview of all the ways your business processes impact customer experience.

Why are service blueprints important?

A service blueprint is important if you’re looking to provide top-notch customer experiences.

Think of it as a map for delivering your services. It shows exactly what your customers are going through when they interact with your service. This includes all the touchpoints they have with your business, from the first time they hear about you to after they have received your service.

This blueprint visualizes all the moving parts involved in delivering your service and identifies any pain points for your customers. It allows you to make changes to your service delivery process to ensure that your customers have a smooth and enjoyable experience.

It’s also a great way to get everyone in your organization on the same page, so each team member is working towards the same goal of delivering outstanding customer experiences.

When to use a service blueprint

You can use a service blueprint any time you want to improve customer service or look critically at how the individual parts of your business function as a whole.

Below are some of the typical scenarios where businesses use service blueprints:

Service design and improvement

Service blueprints can help businesses design and improve the delivery of their services. Mapping out the end-to-end process of delivering a service can reveal opportunities for innovation and improvement.

Customer experience management

Service blueprints can be used to manage the customer experience from start to finish. By understanding the customer journey and the touchpoints involved along the way, businesses can identify pain points and take action to remove them.

Problem-solving and root-cause analysis

Service blueprints can be used to understand the underlying causes of service delivery problems. Mapping out service processes reveals a more complete picture and enables you to readily identify root causes.

Service innovation

Service blueprints can help companies identify opportunities for innovation and improvement in their service delivery system. By understanding the customer journey and the processes involved in delivering a service, businesses can find opportunities to innovate and stand apart from the competition.

Cross-functional collaboration

Service blueprints can help teams understand how their activities and processes impact customer experience. This serves to unite teams from different departments, such as marketing, operations, and customer service, resulting in better collaboration on service design and improvement projects.

Elements of a service blueprint

A service blueprint should provide a detailed overview of all the touchpoints in the customer journey, so it needs to include certain elements. These elements are typically broken down as follows:

Frontstage

This includes all of the customer’s interactions with the company, including verbal or written communication and non-verbal communication. It’s the customer’s experience with your staff, website, app, or anything else they associate with your business.

Backstage

This is everything your customer doesn’t see that provides support for frontstage interactions. The backstage includes elements such as employee training, service delivery systems, and resource allocation.

Supporting processes

Drilling down further, the supporting processes are those that provide functionality for your service delivery. Such processes include order fulfillment, billing and payment, and any non-customer-facing processes that customer service engages in.

Customer actions

This element of the service blueprint contains a detailed list of the exact steps a customer goes through to order and receive a product or service from you.

Physical evidence

This includes the tangible components of the service experience, such as packaging, signage, and any other physical goods required to deliver your service to the customer.

Employee actions

The actions your employees take during the fulfillment of a customer order are broken down into the exact same level of detail as the customer’s actions. Every step taken by any employee who has a hand in service delivery or customer support should be detailed here.

Infrastructure

This includes the physical systems and technology stack that support the service delivery, such as equipment, databases, and communication networks.

How to create a service blueprint

The creation and use of a service blueprint can be broken down into the nine-step process outlined below:

1. Define the service

Clearly define the service you want to create a blueprint for. Identify the main customer segments along with their needs and expectations.

2. Map the customer journey

Identify all the touchpoints where customers interact with the service and map out the entire customer journey, including pre-service, service delivery, and post-service stages.

3. Identify employee and customer actions

Identify the actions both customers and employees take for each touchpoint, including customer requests and employee responses.

4. Identify supporting processes

Identify the processes that support service delivery, such as order fulfillment, billing and payment, and customer service.

5. Include physical evidence

Identify the physical components of the service experience, such as packaging, signage, and service facilities.

6. Map backstage activities

Map out the behind-the-scenes activities that support the frontstage, such as employee training, service delivery systems, and resource allocation.

7. Identify the infrastructure

Identify the physical and technological systems and resources that support service delivery, such as equipment, databases, and communication networks.

8. Validate the blueprint

Review and validate the service blueprint with employees and customers to ensure that it accurately reflects their experiences and that all touchpoints are accounted for.

9. Use the blueprint to improve service delivery

Use the service blueprint as a tool to identify areas for improvement, streamline processes, and enhance the overall service experience for customers.

Service blueprint examples

Every business is different. Even businesses within the same industry have a unique set of touchpoints from which they will need to gather data for a service blueprint.

Below are outlines of several service blueprints for different industries. These should give you an idea of the types of things you can map out in your own business.

Hospitality

A hotel service blueprint might include touch points such as check-in, room service, and checkout, as well as the supporting processes and resources needed to deliver those services. These might include reservation systems, housekeeping, and front desk staffing.

Retail

A service blueprint for the retail industry might include in-store shopping, online shopping, and customer service touch points. It might also include the supporting processes and resources needed to deliver those services, such as inventory management, shipping and delivery, and sales associates.

Healthcare

A healthcare service blueprint might include patient registration, medical consultations, and discharge touch points. Patient records management, lab testing, and nursing staff might also be included as the supporting processes and resources needed to deliver those services.

Transportation

Touchpoints included in a transportation service blueprint might include booking a trip, checking in, and disembarking. These touchpoints are supported by flight schedules, baggage handling, and flight crews, so these would also be included in the service blueprint.

Financial services

A service blueprint for the financial services industry might include touch points such as opening and closing an account and loan processing. It may also include underwriting, loan servicing, and customer service, which are needed to deliver the customer experience.

These are just a few examples of how companies in different industries can use service blueprints. By mapping out the customer journey and the supporting processes and resources, service blueprints can help businesses deliver more effective and efficient services to their customers.

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