The Service Blueprint: A powerful design tool to stay relevant with today’s fast-moving customer.

In 2018, who will you be competing with for your customer’s attention? It’s most likely not your direct competitors. Customers now compare you with the companies at the very forefront of digital experience, which is why you’ll hear “I wish there was an Uber for (insert: bank, insurance, GP)”.

The challenge many digital leaders face right now is how to deal with fast evolving customer behaviours and technological change within fragmented organisations. The customer is now two steps ahead, informed and in control. In a realisation on a par with Galileo’s, you now revolve around the customer and their needs, not the other way around.

This is nothing new, we all understand the need to be customer centric, but do you intentionally design the experience or leave it to chance? And what are the best tools to do this? Thinking small and iteratively is just not going to cut it in 2018. Design thinking can transform the experience your customers have with you and make your offering more relevant. The opposite of relevancy is irrelevancy, which results in a slow extinction!

One way to rapidly grasp the current state of your service, identify the disconnects and reimagine the future, is through the use of a Service Blueprint. The Service Blueprint is an indispensable design tool for mapping the orchestration of your people, systems and processes during the customer experience. This goes beyond process mapping, focussing on the customer’s journey with your organisation and highlighting what aids or hinders that experience.

A Service Blueprint typically maps needs and pain points against the customer journey, overlaying the customer touchpoints and the front/back office people and systems. Once fully developed, supporting technology, data and elements such as customer sentiment are included for each stage of the journey.

The action of service blueprinting creates a map of your existing service and enables the intentional design of new or improved services and products.

So how to get started and what can you expect to achieve?

Many Service Blueprints start life in a workshop environment, with a large wall and a lot of post it notes! We have often seen these wall size versions endure, becoming a go to point for members of the design and development teams to discuss particular elements of the customer experience. This allows the team to immerse themselves in the detail and see how each element fits within the bigger picture, also drawing in ever wider and diverse input when other parts of the organisation discover the wall.

“Without the intentional design of backstage systems and operations, the work of navigating them is outsourced to the customer.” Kendra L. Shimmell, Capital One

The Service Blueprint is a powerful tool to prototype your new or improved service, creating a compelling artefact to engage and energise the wider organisation. It’s also a living document, growing in detail through the design process with research and stakeholder input.

Through this iteration, the Service Blueprint will build to include more detailed technology layers, including new requirements, technical architecture and data inputs/outputs. We are increasingly adding new depths of insight unearthed during customer research, reflecting current concerns such as GDPR, data transparency and ethics. This is especially important if your design incorporates big data, machine learning and AI based technologies.

The Service Blueprint allows you to ask the key questions when developing new products — does the service meet a customer need or solve a pain point, what is the benefit to the organisation, where are our moments of truth? It also provides an invaluable resource for the development team, incorporating the actual user stories that the developers and designers will build, ensuring traceability of customer needs right through to delivery. This results in products and services that your customers need and actually want to use.

All it takes to start building v0.1 of your Service Blueprint is one day, in a room, with a diverse set of people representing the key areas of your organisation (don’t forget the post-it notes and plenty of fuel!). In our experience, even this initial exercise teases out some of the key opportunities to reimagine your customer experience, helping you prioritise your research and design efforts in the most impactful areas.

Our Strategic Design Consultants are experienced facilitators in this methodology, with a passion for taking complex problems and creating innovative human centred solutions, always grounded in the reality of a delivery plan and business case.

So, will you make it your 2018 priority to push the organisation out of its comfort zone and really take on the customer challenge of today? The future of your organisation may very well depend on it!


SPARCK combines the best creative innovation of a strategy house with the experience and capability of a leading, privately owned, technology consultancy, BJSS, with over 900 technologists. We help companies shape and deliver new products and services — and create their future.

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