On the way from first coming across your business to a purchase of your product or service, your customer comes into contact with many different parts of your business. It can be an ad they see, a blog post, your website, support, or even the cashier in your store. The sum of all these customer interactions creates their overall impression of your business.
It is therefore extremely important you have all these interactions mapped out so that you know what may need optimization. That is where a service blueprint comes in.
What is a service blueprint?
A service blueprint is a diagram that visualizes the organization of business processes in regard to service delivery to the end-customer. It shows all touchpoints between a customer and the business and will often involve many, if not all, business departments, from IT to marketing, sales, etc.
This tool provides a comprehensive view of the service delivery process, from the customer’s perspective and how it ties to the internal business processes. This is a side that complex businesses often don’t have a clear overview of, with each department focused on their own part of the process.
A service blueprint is therefore a valuable tool for the optimization of service offerings. It can reveal points of frustration of the customer and areas for improvement. For service designers, user experience managers, and business strategists it provides crucial data to work with.
What is service blueprinting?
Service blueprinting is the process of creating a service blueprint diagram. It involves taking stock of the customer (or user) journey and all the contact points it has with the business. On the other side are all the internal processes that make the customer journey possible. The timeline and interactions of the customer journey and business processes make up a service delivery blueprint.
Each customer journey corresponds to one service blueprint. As a result, a business will often have multiple blueprints, not just a single one. A service blueprint for a person shopping online will look different than for a person shopping in a store.
Creating a customer journey is step zero, so to say, to service blueprinting. Touchpoints from a customer journey are matched with corresponding business processes, be it a website function, a database, or personal interaction, and a service blueprint is constructed by combining the data.
6 benefits of service blueprint
Here are some of the main benefits of service blueprinting:
- Better understanding of the customer – With a well-made service blueprint diagram you can picture yourself in your customer’s shoes. You gain an insight into your customer’s views and feelings when interacting with your business.
- Improved customer experience – With better understanding comes realizing there might be points and processes to be improved. It can be something like long waiting times between steps, or requirements to enter data, that were already entered in previous steps of the process.
- Increased customer satisfaction – Understanding the user’s pain points will, of course, lead to removing them as soon as possible. This will result in increased customer satisfaction and a potential increase in revenue.
- Enhanced cross-team collaboration – Service blueprinting involves collaboration between different departments, bringing together different teams and top management to understand and agree on how the service is delivered.
- Increased efficiency – You may find a point in your internal processes, where there is a potential to be more efficient. These points will usually be hidden under all the complexity of running a multi-department business. A service blueprint is one tool that provides a simplified overview of your processes and helps you uncover them.
- Data-driven decision-making – You may find it difficult to push for changes in internal processes without concrete data to back you up. Fortunately, service blueprints provide just that.
Last but not least a service blueprint is an invaluable tool in UX research and UX design. Designing it is a fundamentally customer-centric approach. By focusing on the customer, UX designers can create a service that provides an optimized and seamless user experience.
Service blueprint components
Example of Service Blueprint:
A service blueprint design will typically incorporate several components in form of boxes or arrows, signifying actions and relations. The main include:
- The tangible elements of the service. It can be a design of a website, a physical store, a visual advertisement, the packaging of a product, etc.
- The actions that a customer takes when interacting with your business. From the first step of coming to contact with your business, to purchasing and providing feedback.
- The parts of the service delivery process that are visible to the customer, such as interactions with employees, technology, or the use of physical spaces.
- The parts of the service delivery process that are not visible to the customer, such as behind-the-scenes employee activities, internal communications, or the use of technology.
- The physical and non-physical elements that support the service delivery process, such as technology systems, people, and processes.
- One-sided on two-sided arrows will be used to signify interactions between elements.
These elements are organized in such a way that 3 lines can be defined, that separate specific types of elements.
- Line of interaction: Denotes instances when a customer interacts with the business. Separates customer actions form frontstage (employee or technology) actions
- Line of visibility: Separates front stage actions – what is visible to the customer – and backstage actions – what is not visible.
- Line of internal processes: Denotes the internal interactions that are not visible to the customer
There are several supporting items that might be included in the service blueprint diagram, such as elements denoting time or customer emotions.
5 Use Cases of Service Blueprint
Service blueprinting is a valuable tool as it helps to map out the customer journey and understand the various touchpoints and interactions. Here are some use cases of service blueprinting:
Use case 1: Improving customer experience
Service blueprinting is an important tool in improving customer experience. It can help to identify areas of friction or frustration in the customer journey and suggest ways to improve the overall experience.
Use case 2: Conducting UX research
UX research is a complex term and many tools can help with conducting many different types of UX research. The service blueprint is just one of them. Identifying and designing your customer journeys is a first step to service blueprinting and a vital tool as well for conducting UX research. In order to see how users interact with your digital product and create a user journey you can use tools such as surveys, website testing, or mobile testing.
After user testing and creating a customer journey a service blueprint is another tool to help you better visualize the way your customers interact with your service and where improvements can be made.
Use case 3: Designing new services
When designing a new service, understanding your planned internal processes and how customers will interact with them is crucial. It is therefore important to lay out your service process and create a service process design. A service process design – blueprint – will help you understand and plan how you want your new service to look. It will help you focus on optimizing the internal processes alongside the customer’s experience.
Use case 4: Optimizing existing services
Just as a service blueprint is beneficial for designing new services it is beneficial too for optimizing existing services. Your competition is always changing and the market evolving and so should you always strive to optimize and evolve your service.
Use case 5: Identifying technology needs
By mapping out the interactions between customers and the technology involved in your service delivery, service blueprinting can help you identify areas where technology can be used to improve the service. I can also reveal where a different type of technology might be more beneficial.
Best practices for creating service blueprint
5 Common mistakes to avoid
- Don’t overcomplicate the diagram: Keep it accurate, but simple and easily understandable.
- Sidelining the customer’s experience: Make sure the service blueprint is made from the point of view of the customer, not your internal processes.
- Shine a light on technology: Your customer may interact with your employees but some will certainly interact with your technology without any human input. Don’t forget to include that when service blueprinting.
- Don’t forget about the back-end processes: Bear in mind you have to include supporting processes like logistics and delivery as well.
- Not updating your service blueprint regularly: The biggest mistake would be to create a service blueprint diagram, evaluate it once, and then figuratively chuck it in your desk drawer. Keep it up to date! Your services evolve and so should your service blueprint diagram.
Getting the most out of service blueprint
To get the most out of your service blueprint it is important to design it correctly.
In order to correctly identify all the touchpoints of the customer and a service provider, a research tool such as UXtweak or another one of UX research tools can be a great help. You can use a session recording tool or survey-type studies to look more closely at how customers interact with your business. User research is fundamentally tied to service blueprinting, as without understanding your customers you cannot design a good service blueprint.
Just as important as creating a service blueprint well is making it actionable. The blueprint should not be just a static document, but rather a tool for driving action and change. Make sure that the blueprint is used to inform decision-making and guide the optimization and development of new service offerings.
Helpful service blueprinting tools
There are several tools that can help make service blueprinting a walk in the park.
- Tools for user research: In the stage of gathering data, it is important to get to know your customers. User research tools such as UXtweak will provide the data about your customers that you need to understand their user journeys.
- Collaboration and project management tools: Tools such as Asana, Trello, or Jira can be used to manage the blueprinting process and ensure that all departments are involved.
- Customer journey mapping tools: When creating a visualization of a customer journey (which as we mentioned is a so to speak step zero to service blueprinting) you can use tools like CX Canvas or Smaply.
- Service design tools: To create a visual design of your service blueprint you can use a service design tool. These are specialized services aimed specifically at service designing and creating service blueprints, for example, SDT. Or you can use templates in tools like Figma or Mural, for these scroll a bit further down.
Service blueprint example
Example for Uber
Most of you would have heard about Uber, the transportation company. For a complex company like Uber, it is important to have a full grasp of their service-providing process, in order to optimize it for the user. A service blueprint is a perfect tool for this.
You can read about the blueprinting process of Uber here, where they talk more in-depth about how they created the diagram below.
Service blueprint template
Service blueprint templates are the easiest way to create one without professional design help. You can choose from a variety of templates in a variety of tools below.
- NNGroup – If you want a simple template you can use in Excel or Numbers, take a look at the template from NNgroup here.
- Figma – Those of you familiar with Figma will be glad there is a template for the service blueprint as well.
- Lucidspark – We recommend you check out this template, for a minimalistic and clean design.
- Whiteboards: You can get a template for another great and clean design here.
- Mural: A template for all your needs, colorful and easily understandable.
- Lucidchart: A clean, modern, and tasteful template.
In conclusion, a service blueprint is a very valuable tool. It helps you understand the various components and touchpoints involved in delivering your service to customers. By mapping out all the interactions between customers and your business, it allows you to identify areas for improvement and ensure customer satisfaction.
Whether you’re starting a new service or trying to improve an existing one, a service blueprint can help you achieve your goals by providing a clear and detailed understanding of the service delivery process.
UXtweak can help you on your journey of creating a service blueprint, register for free.