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Service Innovation & Blueprinting

Service Blueprinting makes every step in the service delivery process visible and sheds light on opportunities for innovation. This collaborative process creates a better experience for employees and customers alike.

Design experiences people remember. In service design we plan and organize people, processes, communication and technology to improve experiences and the quality of interactions. We focus on understanding what a better service could look like and design standards, make service blueprints and highlight important customer experience moments to drive new opportunities.

Service designers:

  • Produce customer experience journey maps;
  • Create Service Blueprints, to map of all the events in a service;
  • Capture opportunities for services innovation by matching needs of customers with capabilities of providers.

We use services all the time, whether it’s visiting the local library, accessing healthcare, filing taxes, or taking public transit. For most services, a complex interaction of people, processes, and physical and digital aids come together to create the service experience. Service design offers a toolkit for better aligning these elements and improving the experience for all involved. Chief among those tools is the Service Blueprint. 

What is a Service Blueprint?

A service blueprint maps the customer journey step-by-step, alongside all of the activities and resources that make the journey possible. The blueprint depicts a customer’s touchpoints with a service, as well as what’s happening behind the scenes. A blueprint is organized chronologically and information about what’s happening at each step is organized into “swimlanes”. Typically, Customer Journey, Frontstage and Backstage are the core swimlanes of any service blueprint. 

  • Customer Journey—the step-by-step overview of how a person navigates through a service and all of the experiences they have along the way.
  • Frontstage—elements of service delivery that are visible to the customer. This includes things like websites, front desks, storefronts, physical products, and customer-facing staff.
  • Backstage—elements of service delivery that are invisible to the customer. This includes things like organizational policies, recordkeeping, fulfillment, office spaces, internal communications, and staff working behind-the-scenes. 

You can add other swimlanes depending on the goal of the blueprinting exercise, such as process that indirectly support the service (e.g. HR, accounting), and external factors that affect the service (e.g. partner organizations, industry regulations).

Why Use a Service Blueprint? 

Mapping out service delivery using a service blueprint is a launch point for innovation. By visualizing with a blueprint how many moving parts work together to create a service experience you can:

  • Improve the customer experience—Is the customer entering information twice? Are they waiting for something that could be initiated sooner in the process? If different parts of the organization are responsible for different parts of the service experience, it’s easy to create these problems. By taking a more holistic view, these problems become easy to solve.
  • Streamline the employee experience—The birds-eye view can help spot where an employee is doing a repetitive action that could be made more efficient, or working harder than they should to make up for a missing process, technology or other kind of customer support. 
  • Prototype a new service framework—Whether you are building a new service or radically changing an existing one, a service blueprint is a great tool for building out what that service might look like. It helps you think through how service elements might interact. Because the tool is visual in nature, it also makes it easy to involve customers, employees and partners in the process. 
  • Share how the service works—Walking someone through a service blueprint is a great way to gather feedback and spark ideas for improvement. It can also be a valuable tool to onboard new employees and transfer organizational knowledge about how a service works. 

How can Overlap support your Service Innovation? 

  • Coaching your team through the service blueprinting process to seek underlying solutions for challenging internal dynamics or processes
  • Facilitating workshops with your stakeholder to collaboratively design a new service or improve an existing one, using the blueprint tool
  • Applying design research techniques to review your service process and create a highly visual service blueprint, which can become an asset for onboarding new employees, engaging stakeholders, and iteratively improving service.

Lead Contact

Brock Hart Chief Design Officer


Adept at bringing people together around big ideas, Brock is a visionary thinker and an extraordinary facilitator. Brock leads the Transformation Design group at Overlap, guiding the team to deliver our work with excellence across projects, programs and sectors. Get to know Brock, see some of his work and engage with his ideas here.


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