Common Customer Experience and Service Design Tools

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Below you can find examples of commonly used tools and methods in service design and user experience design.

Personas

Personas are fictional characters, which you create based upon your research to represent the different user types that might use your product or service in a similar way. [1]

Creating personas will help you to understand your users’ needs, experiences, behaviours, and goals. In addition, personas will guide you ask the right questions – and answer those questions in line with the users you are designing for.

You can find examples on user personas and templates e.g. on the site of Venngage.

A persona template could for example look like something like this:

Customer Lifecycles and Customer Journeys

Customer lifecycles and customer journeys enable you to understand what customers experience and help you design improvements to these experiences. You can think about the lifecycle on different levels: [2]

  • A consumer lifecycle describes people in situations where they have clearly defined needs and several options for how they meet them. You can use it for example to investigate how the customers experience and use your product or service in combination with other products or services.
  • A customer lifecycle describes how people become customers, their first interactions, regular use, changes, and incidents. Building a customer lifecycle helps you to understand how to gain and keep customers.
  • A user lifecycle gives you a clear picture of the tasks people do when they interact with your service. You can use it for example to reduce costs, drive efficiencies, and trigger new behaviours when people use the product or service.

Customer Journey Maps and Service Blueprints are based on the customer lifecycle, and are commonly used tools in service design.

Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map provides a holistic and structured visualisation of a customer’s experience. In other words, it describes the customer experience from the customer’s point of view. [3]

In its most basic form, you can start journey mapping by compiling a series of user actions into a timeline. Then supplement the timeline with user thoughts and emotions to create a narrative. Finally, polish and finalize the narrative. [4]

You can find more information and examples e.g. on the site of Nielsen Norman Group.

Service Blueprint

Blueprinting takes the customer experience above as starting point and shows how the organization supports that journey. In other words, a service blueprint describes the customer journey from the organization’s point of view.

A service blueprint visualizes the relationships between different service components — people, props (physical or digital evidence), and processes — that are directly tied to touchpoints in a specific customer journey. [5]

You can find more information and examples e.g. on the site of Nielsen Norman Group.

This image illustrates the differences between a journey map and a service blueprint:

Business Model Canvas

You can use the business model canvas to help you and others to understand your business model in a straightforward, structured way. You can use it for example when you want to create a new business, or assess or change your existing business model.

The business model canvas was developed and popularised by the book Business Model Generation. In a business model canvas, a business model is described through nine basic building blocks: [6]

  1. Customer segments. What are the top customer segments? Look for the segments that provide the most revenue.
  2. Value proposition. What are your products and services – what is the job you get done for your customer?
  3. Revenue streams. What are your top revenue streams?
  4. Channels. What are your communication, distribution, and sales channels?
  5. Customer relationships. How do you establish and maintain relationships with each customer segment?
  6. Key activities. What do you do every day to run your business model?
  7. Key resources. What are the key resources to run your business – the people, knowledge, means, and money.
  8. Key partners. What are the partners that you cannot do business without? (Not suppliers)
  9. Cost structure. What are your top costs by looking at activities and resources?

You can find the business model canvas template and more information on the site of BMI.

Nine building blocks of business model canvas:

Roadmaps

A roadmap is a strategic plan that defines a goal or desired outcome. It includes the major steps or milestones needed to reach it.

It serves as a great communication tool that helps articulate a strategy – the goal and the high-level plan to reach it.

At a high level, this definition applies to all the roadmaps in an organization. Below you will find some examples on different types of roadmaps. [7]

  • A product roadmap illustrates high-level product strategy and demonstrates how a product will evolve over time.
  • An innovation roadmap can be used to map new areas for growth opportunities, testing new ideas, tracking competitors, and keeping up with advancing technologies.
  • A technology roadmap outlines how an organization plans to use technology to achieve their goals.
  • A project roadmap provides a high-level overview of a project’s objectives, initiatives, and deliverables.

You can find different kinds of roadmap templates e.g. on the site of Roadmunk.

An example of a technology roadmap:

Methods for Testing and Developing Solutions

You may have come across a range of different approaches for testing and developing solutions, including proof of concepts (POC), prototypes, pilots, or minimal viable products (MVPs).

They all have something in common – they aim to challenge assumptions by making things more real and testing them. The goal is to accelerate learning by finding out what works and what does not – and achieve this without investing large amounts of time or resources.

These different terms can be confusing, and they are used in different places with different meanings. Below you can see how Bas Leuers and Kelly Duggan have decoded these terms. [8]

Proof of Concept (POC)

A proof of concept often involves a small exercise to test the real-world potential of an incomplete idea. In other words, it is about demonstrating if the idea is feasible.

Use a proof of concept in the early stages when you have an instinct about an idea.

Prototype

When a proof of concept shows if a product, feature, or system can be developed, a prototype shows how it will be developed. A prototype is the visible, tangible, or functional manifestation of an idea, which you test with others.

Use prototypes when you have a hypothesis about a solution, but there is still uncertainty about how it looks, feels, and works.

Pilots

Pilots are often used as the first stage of a new policy or service rollout. Here you start providing the ‘live’ service, first for a small group of real users.

Use pilots when you believe you have an effective solution and are looking to iron out the wrinkles and understand how it works in reality. This helps to prepare to scale a solution to a wider group.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product allows you to learn more about a possible solution whilst using minimal resources. It does this by testing only the essential core of your concept with real users in practice.

This means that you can find out early on if there is an actual need or demand for the solution, what is working and what is not, and make any adjustments accordingly (making adjustments is called pivoting in the lean-startup scene).

Highlighting the Differences

These four methods are used at different stages in the development process, need differing amounts of resources, vary in accuracy / level of detail, and may have different scope.

In the diagram below Leuers and Duggan have mapped out the four different methods across two axes. [8]

The horizontal axis indicates how complete the solution is. The vertical axis indicates how comprehensive the “unit of testing” is.


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Sources

  1. Rikke Friis Dam and Teo Yu Siang (2020). Personas – A Simple Introduction. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  2. Krug, Steve (2014). Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) (Voices That Matter). New Riders
  3. Stickdorn, Marc and Schneider, Jakob (2012). This is Service Design Thinking: Basics-Tools-Cases. The Netherlands: BIS Publishers.
  4. Gibbons, Sarah and Joyce, Alita (2019). Service Blueprinting: Top Questions Answered. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  5. Gibbons, Sarah (2017). Service Blueprints: Definition. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  6. Osterwalder, Alexander and Pigneur, Yves (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
  7. Roadmunk. 7 free roadmap templates for creating organization-wide alignment & communication. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  8. Leurs, Bas and Duggan, Kelly (2018). Proof of concept, prototype, pilot, MVP – what’s in a name? Retrieved 18 August 2020.