Enhancing the service blueprint

The Gist

Service blueprinting is a tool used by service designers to model service processes from the customer’s perspective. Developed a couple of decades ago by Lynn Shostack, the blueprints are primarily used to showcase the customer actions, the backstage actions & support processes, and the physical evidence—all the tangible evidence that the customer comes into contact with throughout their service engagement.

However, the success of services depends largely on customer satisfaction, and how they feel they were treated throughout the service. It only seems natural that if studying and mapping services according to the customer perspective, these aspects—customer satisfaction and emotions—should be included.

My work for IBM Research explored exactly this: how could service blueprints be enhanced so that customer emotions and satisfaction would be taken into consideration?


I knew that service blueprints were the closest thing that designers would use in terms of mapping services in terms of customer experience, but I started the project by studying all sorts of service maps: not only service blueprints, but other types of models and flow diagrams that others have developed to map services.

Next, I started using my own example of a service experience to start doing some mapping. In my case, I called a help desk for help with some computer problems. Throughout this experience, I recorded as much detail as I could; the steps that were taken, the script that the customer representative used, the emotions that I felt during the call, the frustrations I encountered, etc. Once I had all the details, I started visualizing my experience.

After dozens and dozens of visualizations, I started to hone in on specific attributes that eventually made their way into the final blueprint. By no means is the current blueprint final, but we think that we’ve made great steps towards enhancing the blueprint.

Some of the new attributes of the blueprint are the following:
–added customer satisfaction line
–added customer emotion ‘bubbles’
–added service provider script
–made the blueprint more pictorial rather than textual

Out with the old, in with the new

Typical service blueprint:


A slice of my redesigned blueprint:

download full blueprint on sidebar at right