Shostack Service Blueprint – LMS E-learning Assignment

Service blueprinting is a method for examining how a current service operates or envisioning a future service. The idea was first introduced by G. Lynn Shostack, former Vice President of Citibank, in an article in a Harvard Business Review in 1984. Service Blueprints are a way of visually mapping out the complexity of services by aligning Frontstage consumer experience with Backstage business processes. As such, they offer a simultaneous user-centered and enterprise-centered focused.

According to Dr Andy Polaine, service designer and co-author of “Service Design: From Insight to Implementation”, “Blueprints are to service design what 3D sketches and wireframes are to product design and UX design”. Blueprints can be low file like an example of a quick prototype of how a community website could work. Or they can be more detailed and resolved in the example of a detailed car sharing scheme with Volkswagen.

They can be quite functional in appearance or more visual in the example of Maria McLelland’s Redesign for the College of Policing of how research can be better embedded in policing practices. But however the blueprint is designed and presented, the process is one that always invites collaboration, discussion and shared insights. In some cases, journey maps provide a starting point for blueprinting. User interviews conducted using journey maps may suggest and identify problems and shortcomings or opportunities that can feed into the design process.

The blueprint template enables the service to be considered from the viewpoint of the service user and provider over time and highlights areas for innovation and improvement. With it, we understand how different parts of a service work as a whole. We see opportunities for joining up processes, we can coordinate parallel work streams and break down barriers between different activities.

Consequently, Service Blueprints are used to design and deliver a better service experience. They allow a better understanding of user interactions with the service over time. The Service Blueprint describes the user journey in addition to all the interactions that make that journey possible. In doing so, two concepts are essential:

  1. The blueprint differentiates between activities and interactions that are Front staged. In other words, directly seen by the user  
  2. and Backstage, not seen by the user, but vital to performance.


For example, in a restaurant or café, it is the Front stage that attracts us, that makes us comfortable, that offers us choice of the service we demand. But much of the heavy lifting to allow that service to happen that cooks the food we will eat, is done Backstage, out of sight.  

So let’s see how all this actually works! 

Colums on a Service Blueprint template 

The columns on this template refer to the different stages in the service experience:

  • Aware,
  • Join,
  • Use,
  • Maintain, 
  • Leave.


Now let us look at each row!

  Rows on a Service Blueprint template

  • The first one focuses on the User, what does the person interacting with the service or process do or experience?
  • Next, we consider Touchpoints who/what are the people, places, and things that the user “touches” when they come into contact with the service?
  • Continuing with the Frontstage, we are interested here in what staff actually do, how they are interacting with the user.
  • Meanwhile Backstage, or Back Office what are the staff doing there?
  • Finally, Mean and Processes – what else is involved, what are the processes and resources needed to deliver the service or experience?

So let’s see how this works in the case of how we design the service provided by a hotel. What are all the elements a blueprint must address to provide a great hotel experience? Let’s assume you’re looking for a hotel to stay at. Where does the experience start?

It usually starts with a Touchpoint – an advert or a website. The user or customer is attracted to the hotel offer and wants to make a reservation. They can do this via the website, or they can call the hotel directly where a member of staff would field the enquiry.

Backstage, staff would make a reservation for the guest, which relies on there being an effective reservation system in place. The day comes when the hotel guest arrives at the hotel and wants to check in. Touchpoints determine what kind of experience this is. How easy is it to find the reception area? How crowded is it? How much paperwork is needed? What information is provided? What form does the key take? Staff play a key role here in greeting the guests and processing the registration.

Linked to the reservation system is the registration system, which after check-in has to be checked-off by Backstage staff. A guest wants to eat so a whole environment of Touchpoints come together to provide a restaurant experience; and another team of Frontstage staff greet the diner, take the orders, and wait the table.

These of course are different from those who cook the food using the kitchen facilities in the hotel. And so, to bed, and yet another environment of Touchpoints provides this experience with the added option of room service. Yet another team of Backstage staff clean, prepare, and maintain the room; referring as they do to the room management system which tells them whether it’s towels, sheets or both that needs to be changed.

Finally, the guest checks out. They return to the lobby where they may encounter payment system and taxi ordering facility. Staff process the checkout, referring back to the registration system. Finally, the closure – an email thanking them for their custom and asking for their views on their stay.

Hopefully, this short video introduction will have underlined the vital role played by Service Blueprints in the service design process. As Professor Birgit Mager of Köln international School of Design says: “Service Blueprints are a tool for holistic analysis and visualisation from a customer perspective yet integrating all the providers structure and processes that are relevant for delivering to the customer’s delight”.




You are required to prepare a service blueprint for your organisation periodically to provide a great venue experience for your customers. 


Complete the 5 short answer questions based on the above video: 


1. State three (3) communication channels that your clients may interact with you regarding your venue. 


2. State three (3) people, places or things that the customer ‘touches’ or come into contact with. 


3. State three (3) services / processes the front stage staff do. 


4. State three (3) services/processes the backstage staff do. 


5. State three (3) support processes and resources needed to deliver the service and experience. 


This LMS e-Learning activity forms part of the WSQ Managing Stakeholder Expectations course.