A service blueprint is a visualisation of an entire service delivery.
It is a representation how a service is delivered, end to end, front to back and across channels.
It is a powerful tool that simultaneously provides a high-level view of the user experience and a detailed view of what is going on below the surface.
Following a user/costumer journey, it maps all points of interaction with a service and the actions, tools and processes happening in the background that are directly connected to the user’s action.
When to build a service blueprint
Not all projects need a service blueprint and due to its complexity, it is wise for teams to reflect if there is value in building one.
If you want to build a service blueprint, be aware that it requires time and effort to maintain, and this must be properly accounted for in your team's capacity. How much resource you need to build and iterate the service blueprint is largely dependent on the complexity of your service, how much detail you want to add, and the number of organisations or teams involved in the delivery of the service.
Service blueprints should be built when the team needs to:
- Simplify a complex service, resource and process through visualising it
Service blueprints give an organisation a comprehensive understanding of its service and the underlying resources and processes — seen and unseen to the user — that make it possible.
- Draft the outlines of a new service
Before you build a new service, it is worth spending time creating a service blueprint to capture the front stage user experience and the backstage activities the organisation needs to deliver to create the new service.
- Improve an existing service
Understand how service improvements can impact the existing service by understanding relationships between all actors and aligning them with frontstage and backstage processes.
- Get buy-in from stakeholders
Having the service overview in the blueprint is important, because it can help teams communicate the project to decision-makers higher up in the organisation before they start building or changing the service.
- Understand the scope of the work by zooming out
It also gives stakeholders a zoomed-out view of all things needed to come together before starting to improve parts of the service. This makes it easier for the stakeholders to understand the magnitude of the work needed to deliver the service.
- Understand service interdependencies
Service blueprints help stakeholders grasp how a change to a detail of the service might have an impact on other parts of the service, when they can see how everything is connected, as well as what blockers they might need to remove for the team.
Key elements of a service blueprint
Similar to a journey map (add link), customer actions in a service blueprint represent the steps a costumer takes when interacting with a service.
e.g. Visits website, calls costumer support, makes a return request, makes a service complaint....
Frontstage actions are actions that occur directly in front a costumer. These actions can be human-to-human, when an employee interacts with a costumer or human-to-computer when the costumer interacts with self-serving technology.
Backstage actions are actions that the costumer doesn't see and isn’t aware that are happening in the background. The background action support frontstage actions. These actions can be performed by a backstage employee (e.g. a cook in the kitchen), or by a frontstage employee who does something that isn’t visible to the costumer (e.g. waiter entering an order into the kitchen system.)
Processes are the internal steps and interactions that support the employees delivering the service.
How to structure a service blueprint
In a service blueprint, key elements (see section above) are organised into lines that separate them:
- Line of interaction shows all the interaction between a customer and a service
- Line of visibility separates the actions that are visible to the customer and those that are not visible.
How to build a service blueprint
- List all the actors involved in the service process in a vertical axis
- List all the steps/actions required to deliver the service in a horizontal axis
- Place the Line of visibility to highlight the actions the costumer can see above the line; and the actions the customer can’t see below the line of visibility.
If you want to add more complexity to a service blueprint:
- List all the channels a customer interacts with
- List all the systems/technology an employee interacts with
- Add in time factor to highlight the estimated time to complete a step/action
- List any policies/regulations that have an impact on how the service is delivered
- List in any success metrics that can provide context to the blueprint
- Add user pain-points or challenges to the map
Remember that the more elements you add to a service blueprint the more complex and difficult to will be to read and understood across the organisation.