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Adaptive Path’s Guide to Service Blueprinting

AS THE FOCUS ON CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE becomes more important, having a good picture of how your service operates in relation to what the customer is trying to do is paramount.
At Adaptive Path, we often refer to service blueprinting as the gateway drug to service design. A service blueprint is one of our quintessential service design tools, and along with experience maps, it’s one of the common service design deliverables. It’s an accessible tool that brings together various perspectives, silos, and projects in a visualization of how the current service works, or what will need to be in place for a future service vision to be realized. It’s easy to learn but challenging to master. You can put one together in an afternoon to quickly move a project team forward.

You can also spend weeks, months, and even years changing its scope, adding in more detail, or maintaining the services it documents. As our main focus is service design, we use blueprints on most of our projects, whether we’re working on the definition of an entirely new end-to-end service offering or a zoomed-in service moment. We even apply them to better understand internal services and processes. While there certainly are limitations to the tool, we find it best to work within the foundational framework before adding and experimenting. That said, blueprints are evolving. We’ve seen some interesting adaptations to the traditional format.

In this guide, we’ll share the fundamentals of service blueprints: what they are, why you should use them, how to create one, and how to use and maintain it. We’ll share best practices and tips that will help you either get started with service blueprints or refine your practice if you’ve already made a few. Enjoy!

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What is service design

Service design applies design methods and craft to the definition and orchestration of products, communications, and interactions (i.e., service touchpoints), as well as, the operations, values, and structure of an organization. It requires looking not only at the customer experience, but also the business experience.

Service design differs from how many people think of user experience design (UXD).

Service design examines value and experience from a multi-user perspective (customer, staff, and business), is largely agnostic to channel and medium, and connects experiencedelivery to the operations and technology that produce it. Though service design shares many tools and methods with other humancentered design fields, its additional perspectives and approaches help manage the complexity that comes with multiple dimensions of service experiences, such as experiences with multiple digital touch points or experiences that cross multiple channels and business silos.

It’s also important to remember that service design isn’t a new thing.

Service providers have been designing services for years, but they haven’t always included designers or a human-centered approach in those endeavors.

What is a service blueprint

A service blueprint is an working tool that visualizes the components of a service in enough detail to analyze, implement, and maintain it.

Blueprints show the orchestration of people, touch points, processes, and technology both front stage (what customers see) and backstage (what is behind the scenes). They can be used to describe the existing state of a service experience as well as to support defining and implementing new or improved services. While service blueprints resemble approaches to process documentation, they keep the focus on the customer experience while showing how operations deliver that experience.

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The activity of service blueprinting creates a communal space where diverse groups—such as design, development, operations, business analysis, and frontline staff—can align on how the pieces for which they are responsible connect to create a greater whole. As a communication tool, the service blueprint highlights dependencies within the organization and provides the foundation for roadmapping and piloting the reinvention or creation of an experience. Through increased collaboration and intentional orchestration across functions, service blueprints increase the odds that an organization can deliver and maintain its envisioned experience for customers and staff.

“Blueprints are the gateway drug to service design.”
—Patrick Quattlebaum

The service blueprints we create today, although visually and structurally different, contain many of the same elements—time, flow, the line of visibility, actions, and working components—as Lynn Shostack’s
original proposal,

Source: embedded document

A Guide to Service Blueprinting
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