Learning about customer experience, and how to leverage the service blueprint as a research tool, is essential for researchers and designers, as this will help them stay ahead in this rapidly changing world. 

This March, I was lucky enough to facilitate a Thinkshop with 25 designers attending the AIGA Y Design Conference. We left with some interesting conclusions around how to build and use service blueprints as research tools. 


Lessons that emerged from the Thinkshop:

  1. Know when you need a journey map verses a service blueprint. A journey map illustrates the customer experience and provides insight into how a customer typically experiences a service in different contexts over time. It focuses on the primary actions the customer is taking, along with what they feel and think as they move through your service. Journey maps are good for revealing a customer's experience for strategic, visionary decisions, while blueprints are good for reworking a specific process once a strategic decision has been made.
  2. Before you start problem solving, you need to have a clear picture of your current state. It's great to come up with all kinds of exciting ideas, but without clearly knowing the pain points and the service strengths, you risk creating something that falls flat, or could worsen your service experience.
  3. Understanding and mapping the experience of a service employee is just as critical as the customer experience. A blueprint falls flat if it doesn’t include a clear picture of the service provider, along with the backstage people and processes. It’s great to research your customer, but just as important is researching the service provider, who has great influence on the experience of your customer.
  4.  The blueprint helps us identify opportunities. Large time gaps between customer actions are always opportunities, moving activities up or down lanes can create big opportunities for innovation, and removing extraneous steps or props can simplify the service experience. Every touchpoint—people, places, props, partners and processes—has the opportunity to provide value to the customer (and service provider!).
  5. Value isn’t always measurable. While it’s important to identify metrics along your service blueprint—places where you can track for success—there is a level of value that is critical but may not be trackable, and that’s okay. For example, some people go to coffee shops solely for the reason that the shop felt like a place they belonged. This warm feeling of belonging can’t be tracked, but it’s why people keep coming back. This value isn’t always measurable, but it’s often at the core of why customers stick with a service. Clearly articulating value exchanges, and the opportunity of new value, helps everyone see why each touchpoint is important, even if it isn’t measurable. 
  6. Just because it can be a service doesn’t mean it should. This one is simple—not everything needs to be become a service.

If you’d like to get a better understanding of the tools and methods that make possible an integrated, positive experience for your customers, Cooper U offers a two-day workshop called Transforming Customer Experience

For those of you designing for a service-oriented company, what lessons have you learned? What are critical skills and tools you use each day?