Journey Map vs. Service Blueprint

A Look Into the Two Crucial Tools in Service Design

In the world of theater, there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes action involved in rolling out the best possible onstage performance to the expectant crowd. The same goes for service design. There is a lot of backstage work that must be carried out to deliver the most meaningful experiences to your awaiting customers. While it’s entirely different from stage production, service design follows the same scrupulous approach, where the audience is at the center of it all.
 
The purpose of service design is to set the scene for your digital product. It helps companies arrange and orchestrate each component in the service delivery process to create the most efficient internal workflow and produce the most intuitive customer journey.  
 
Service design is a multi-layered process. It includes breaking down the internal processes, as well as the technologies involved in the delivery of services. Apart from tools and processes, service design also looks into various company resources, such as the employees, logistics, policies, systems, and other factors that impact customer-provider interactions.
 
Of course, in doing this, there are certain tools that must be put into play. There are two fundamental mediums used in this process — journey maps and service blueprints. These are equally important tools that help organizations build human-centered, highly optimized, seamless digital experiences. 
 

Plotting out the journey

Journey mapping is a step-by-step process of visualizing how customers navigate through your product or service. This includes capturing their thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. In this process, product expectations, customer needs, and user pain points are also laid out to better understand how customers make decisions at every point of interaction. 
 
Making use of personas is a helpful technique to get a fix on the thought processes, decision patterns, and shopping habits of your customers. This can be done through research, interviews, surveys, analytics, and customer feedback. Utilizing personas provides you with valuable insights, such as how they feel about your product and how they actually interact with it.

Mapping out personas also makes it easier to determine other components of the customer journey map, such as touchpoints, pain points, and user goals. While not all journey maps look the same, there are several fundamental elements that must be present to accurately capture customer progression within the product or service.
Journey maps typically demonstrate various stages of the customer journey under different scenarios. For every phase, there is a corresponding sequence of actions, which include the mental and emotional state of the customer in each step. More often than not, these different phases are demonstrated in a timeline format.
 
The customer journey phases serve as the backbone of the entire map. These phases usually represent stages in the purchase funnel — or similar customer-focused models — illustrated in a linear and logical manner. These journey phases are supported by points of interaction or the so-called customer touchpoints. Touchpoints are different areas of interaction, such as social media, advertisements, applications, customer service, and the like. They’re often laid out in sequential order to demonstrate how the customer actually moves along the journey. 
 
These touchpoints don’t stand alone, of course. They’re trailed by specific user actions, articulated thoughts, and emotional conditions. This segment paints a clearer picture of the actual experience of users at each point of contact. It’s not only the technical progression that needs to be emphasized but also the emotional journey of the customer. 
 
Moreover, pain points are easily revealed in this stage. This allows companies to eliminate points of friction that negatively impact user journeys. 
 
The key to plotting out a journey map is putting yourself in the shoes of your audience. From their point of view, it’s easier to identify the barriers preventing an optimal customer experience. 
 

Laying the groundwork

Service blueprinting is the second cloak of work in service design. A complementary tool to a journey map, it’s more concerned with behind-the-scenes action more than actual product experience.
 
The main purpose of a service blueprint is to optimize the implementation of service procedures within the organization. It zeros in on two critical components in the service delivery process: people and processes. 
 
Similar to a journey map, a service blueprint illustrates the sequence of customer actions. The difference is that it’s supported by a three-fold approach, which encompasses the line of interaction, the line of visibility, and the line of internal action.
 
So which elements lie in-between these layers? The components above the line of interaction, focuses on the interactions between the customer and service provider. This includes the first component, which is the physical evidence, referring to the visible or tangible proof of the service. This can range from physical locations, to virtual spaces, to interactive objects — where the customer gets to engage with the product or service. It’s shadowed by customer actions, where moments of direct interaction occur, which is similar to a journey map.
 
The third element to the service blueprint is the frontstage action, which is sandwiched between the line of interaction and the line of visibility. Frontstage action refers to the direct engagement with the service — but from the customer’s point of view. It can either be customer-to-employee or customer-to-computer interaction. This is a crucial phase where the moment of truth occurs, which is the time when the customer engages with the product or service and forms an opinion. 
 
In the service blueprint, the frontstage action is trailed by the backstage action. This refers to the activities carried out to support the frontstage procedures. The backstage action is already an invisible stage to the customers but remains a critical agent in the delivery of service.
 
This component is followed by the support processes, poised below the line of internal action. Support processes refer to the internal practices as well as supporting technologies that help in the coordination of internal activities and service procedures.
 
In some cases, companies incorporate additional pieces to their blueprints, such as time or success metrics, to further assess their internal workflow. This ensures that methodologies are fine-tuned with business goals and work inefficiencies are identified and eliminated right off the bat. That’s the whole point of creating service blueprints anyway. It’s focused on scratching beneath the surface and finding opportunities to make valuable and resounding changes.
 
Indeed, internal weaknesses can impact the quality of experience. Thus, it can be said that journey maps and service blueprints are equally essential tools in stitching together a delightful experience to the expectant crowd.