tool description

The blueprint is an operational tool that describes the nature and the characteristics of the service interaction in enough detail to verify, implement and maintain it. It is based on a graphical technique that displays the process functions above and below the line of visibility to the customer: all the touchpoints and the back-stage processes are documented and aligned to the user experience.

(1977) Lynn G. Shostack, Breaking Free from Product Marketing, in Journal of Marketing n° 41
(1984) Lynn G. Shostack, Designing services that deliver in Harvard Business Review n° 62
(1991) G. Hollins, W. Hollins, Total Design: Managing the design process in the service sector, Trans Atlantic Publications
(2004) R. Kalakota, M.Robinson, Services Blueprint: Roadmap for Execution, Addison-Wesley, Boston.
(2001) Lynn G. Shostack, How to Design a Service, in European Journal of Marketing n°16
(2007) Mary Jo Bitner, Amy L. Ostrom, Felicia N. Morgan, Service Blueprinting: A Practical Tool for Service Innovation, Centre for Services Leadership, Arizona State University, paper.


Andy Polaine, Roman Aebersold, Robert Bossart and Andrea Mettler

Blueprint+ -presented during the SDN Conference in Madeira, October 2009- well expresses the actual thinking over the use of blueprint in service design.
The traditional blueprints –as they are used in disciplines like architecture, product design and engineering- are instruments for building, standardizing, communicating, planning and sharing the project. While, if we think at how the blueprints are used in service design, we can notice that they give just partial representation of how a service works: they provide a detailed visualization of the actions and processes, without looking at the motivational and emotional sides.
The solution proposed with Blueprint+ improves this aspect by adding more layers of information inside the diagram, like the emotions line and the color-coded emotional states.
A better usage of the graphical elements composing the visualization is also helpful: it makes information more readable, more precise and effective; it allows representing more data at the same time (see for example the use of a squash and stretch flexible time scale). This of course improves the way in which the blueprint is used inside the design activities as a tool supporting the development, sharing, planning and building of the service process.
Even thou this project shows how the quality and the potentiality of blueprint can be enhanced, the last questions taken from Polaine’s presentation in Madeira really hit what for me is still the core issue:
“Are blueprints still a valid tool? Do we need to further them?
How much information should go into them?
What is missing in our approach?
Should it be wrapped into a software tool or a better toolkit?”
Isn’t it time for taking a step forward among service notational tools?


Eilidh Dickson

The report of Eilidh's final year project at CIID (2009) provides a beautiful example of the great deal of tools that could be used during an entire design process. Sometimes the tools overlap, as tiles composing a bigger picture, sometimes they come one after the other, as consequential steps following the development of the idea. Sometimes they are more oriented at exploring the context and developing the idea, sometimes they are aimed at expressing and describing it.
The paper based blueprint displayed here is an initial service blueprint that allowed the designer to focus and establish the key user interactions, the role of the service provider and the touchpoints to be designed in the future phases.
In this case, once again, the blueprinting technique becomes an instrument for deepening and developing the idea in the first phases of design. This proves the need of tools that are able to provide a systemic view of the service interaction and a schematic description of its functioning also in the initial stages, long before the specification and implementation of the idea.

Design for the clinic experience

Melissa Cliver, Jamin Hegeman, Kipum Lee, Leanne Libert, Kara Tennant (Carnagie Mellon University)

After the visit to the Presbyterian Neuro Clinic and the interviews with both patients and staff members, the process was described through a service blueprint.
The blueprint maps the entire clinic experience for patients and all of the supporting roles staff and Dr. Kassam play throughout. Mapping the service blueprint allowed the team to see the breakdowns in the clinic experience: the chaotic backstage processes, the absolute importance of Dr.Kassam in the system, the lack of patients’ engagement during the waiting time.

Gjensidige service blueprint


Live|work helped Gjensidige -one of the largest insurance companies in Norway- developing the idea of combining banking and insurance for people aged 20 to 30.
Gjensidige’s insurance and banking services were two completely separated business units till that moment, while the new service idea needed all the different parties working together in order to create a seamless customer experience.
Together with Gjensidige, live|work mapped out both the insurance and banking internal ‘backstage’ processes and then redefined them by using a service blueprint, that allowed everybody to see what had to be done behind the new process. After that the blueprint became also the starting point to create a brief for the marketing agency and the other figures involved in the final implementation of the service.