The secret to service success: the service blueprint.

The service blueprint process

A service blueprint is a fundamental component of service design—it’s a method that allows you to identify the people, processes, and systems needed to deliver amazing service, by providing a robust organizational framework.

Service design is defined as the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication, and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers.

In a preceding article, we talked about getting in your customer’s shoes with service design, detailing how you can strategically get to know your customers. Today we’re going to talk about a particular part of the service design process—your service blueprint—using Ruby’s famous Fashion Friday as an example.

Recently, Ruby’s Director of User Experience, Terri Haswell, hosted a service blueprint workshop at the monthly Service Design PDX Meetup. Sara Mesing and Christopher Machuca, the co-founders of the Meetup, guided the participants through the service blueprint process. The goal? To use a service blueprint to better understand a specific journey—in this case, the Fashion Friday experience.

To add authenticity to the experience, Macie, Ruby’s Associate UX Designer and Marcella, one of our Office Experience Managers played the role of subject matter experts—one from the perspective of a Ruby participating in Fashion Friday and the other as someone who plays an active role in making Fashion Friday happen. A service design blueprint is most effective when the voices involved in its development come from stakeholders in the process. Since Macie and Marcella both participate in and help make Fashion Friday possible, their insights are integral to laying out a successful blueprint.

The service blueprint.

To make use of a service blueprint you need to first map a customer journey. A journey map captures the end-to-end user journey, uncovering the highs and lows people feel as they try to meet a goal or satisfy a need. A service blueprint is a method that allows you to identify the people, processes, and systems needed to deliver on the steps in your customer’s journey.
You can break your blueprint into three parts:

  • The Front Stage – Where your customer interacts with your service or product.
  • The Back Stage – Everything required to produce the front stage experience.
  • Behind the Scenes—the systems and processes that keep things moving but are never experienced directly by the customers.

A well put together service blueprint will show you where processes can be improved, shortened, or clarified to achieve a smooth journey to a given goal and who needs to be involved in supporting each step of the journey.

The Fashion Friday service blueprint process.

Fashion Friday is Ruby’s response to the traditional Casual Friday. We just took a not-so-casual approach! Dating back to 2011, Rubys dress up in costumes or fun outfits to reflect a preselected theme. Each week photos are taken and shared for voting to select a winner. From floral to ugly sweaters and bad hair to Pokémon, each week’s theme is creative, unique, and irrevocably Ruby.

As casual and fun as the themes are, there are quite a few people and processes in place that keep Fashion Friday running—both for the organizers and the participants.

We mapped out a 13-step journey for the person who was going to be dressing up that includes getting the notice, figuring out what to wear, transporting their costume, signing up, getting photos taken, voting, and all the little details that are all too easy to overlook.

  • Journey/Front Stage—participation in Fashion Friday, from learning about the theme and getting dressed up, all the way to voting in the competition.
  • Back Stage—what we need to do to inform Rubys of upcoming themes, send out reminders, provide them with a means of voting, and share winners.
  • Behind the Scenes—systems for communication including SharePoint and Outlook.

The process
Think of your service design blueprint process like a brainstorm. You need poster board, sticky notes, and a collaborative mindset! In this example, we mapped out the 13 steps and made suggestions and discussed options on each step.

The goals
The goal was to identify pain points from both the user’s journey and the people supporting the journey. By creating this as a visual blueprint it was easy to start seeing areas of opportunity. People were excited to talk about how to inspire participation and how to overcome the administrative and logistical difficulty associated with organizing this event every week. Often new opportunities bubble up throughout the blueprinting process. This is where those varied perspectives really come in handy.

The Outcome
Participants in the workshop found the process engaging and enlightening. They also enjoyed learning about a little slice of life at Ruby.

Leah B.—What an engaging and informative workshop! Thanks to all the folks at Ruby and Chris and Sara for organizing and providing this great opportunity!
Chris G. — Excellent service design workshop. Far exceeded my expectations. Many thanks.

Do you have a service or process you’re looking to improve? A service blueprint can be applied to any experience or journey to make sure you understand all it takes to reach a goal.

Example service blueprint.

Service blueprint example

On top of being a great experience and opportunity for improvement, the creativity and collaboration associated with a service blueprint can be a lot of fun!


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