You understand your customer’s experience and your back of house service delivery processes. Maybe you’ve even created a service blueprint or a value chain map. You’re ready to take on the world! Or rather, the service system. Use this handy checklist to make sure you don’t miss any major opportunities. 

We’ve identified five primary categories of service design opportunity. The first three are the most obvious and the most essential, and the final two are what we recommend for organizations who are ready to tackle the future.  

The next time you're reviewing a customer journey map or service blueprint, use this list to help you think through all the types of potential improvements that might be possible.


1. Customer-facing improvement 

Are customers reaching out on a channel you don’t support? Are employees struggling to keep customers happy? Are there negative experiences created by the hand-offs between digital systems? 

This category of improvement is usually the most obvious to human-centered thinkers, and is all about mitigating customer pain points by identifying their root causes. 

2. Process-based improvement 

Are employees equipped with the education and tools they need? Is the necessary information being shared across departments? Are there bottlenecks or delays caused by partner relationships? 

This category of improvement identifies the back of house operational moments that cause employee pain and organizational friction. While this isn’t customer-facing, we've found that disempowered employees and strained organizations negatively impact the customer experience. 

3. End-to-end improvement 

Is your service building a relationship with your customer, or just letting them transact at discrete moments in time? Do you know what success looks like? 

This category of improvement looks across the entire service experience, at a high level, to uncover system-wide opportunities for orchestrating and measuring experience. Look for ways that the customer relationship might be supported, strengthened, and deepened across moments of interaction, and points in time that can support qualitative or quantitative measurement.

4. Future-facing improvement 

Is this service going to grow or change over the next two years? If so, are parts of the customer’s experience going to be endangered by those changes? Are some back of house processes going to break down when growth and scale come into the picture? 

It’s important to consider service improvements in both the short and slightly longer term. Not all service improvements need to be reactive; experience can be planned for in advance.

5. Service innovation 

The final area of opportunity is often the one people jump to first. We should add ___! We should partner with __! We need a new ___! When looking at this category of improvement, consider how a change in this area might have impacts on the other 4 areas. For example, would a potential innovation solve previously identified process problems? Or would it make them even worse? 

Real service innovation is that which is realistic to implement, sustainable for the organization, and has a net positive impact on customers and employees. 

Let us know if we missed any major categories of service improvement!