Putting the Flow in Flowchart | Service Blueprints and Service Design

As part of our Service Design class at AC4D, we were asked to complete a series of exercises that map the various touchpoints a user / customer will experience as they interact with the services and products attending to the business we are developing. The most recent artifact we created is a service blueprint, which can be defined as a “a customer-focused approach for service innovation and service improvement.”1

We conducted extensive research into areas of life in which people are regularly and reliably able to enter a state of flow. Flow can be loosely defined as a state of deep concentration in which a person is fully involved in overcoming surmountable but challenging problems. Our group believes that teaching people how to regularly enter a state of flow is absolutely essential in educating people who are creative, resilient and able to grapple with the complex, wicked problems of society.

Our findings taught us that a certain set of physical and behavioral elements must be present for a person to enter the state of flow, and to derive the full benefit of having gone there. After exploring a number of options of how to create a product that could teach flow, we decided that a learning tool kit / building kit was both the ideal product and the ideal business model for us at this time.

Moving from our design insights into a customer journey map and, ultimately, a service blueprint was a surprisingly helpful exercise. Which isn’t to say that it was surprising that it was helpful. We knew it would be helpful. If we’ve learned nothing else here at AC4D, we’ve all learned to trust the process implicitly (even if we grumble about it occasionally). What was surprising was the practicality of the insights that emerged from the service blueprint.

It seemed likely that the service blueprint would illuminate places where we could finetune the actual, well, service we are providing. That is, the non-physical elements surrounding our product; marketing, messaging, user interfaces and actual customer service. And we did unearth helpful insights in all of those areas. Things got juicy, however, when the blueprint started showing us where we should probably take a look at some core assumptions about our initial product. A few helpful suggestions from the blueprint include:

–        The triumph / failure cycle that is critical to supporting a state of flow can begin the moment the user receives their box. Unboxing can become a prominent part of the experience, It’s a place we can leverage to get immediate user buy in.

–        There are unexpected locations where people are likely use our kits. We’d originally thought of homes and schools. We now see backs of cars, grandparents’ houses, parks, hospitals and offices.  This opens avenues for special edition kits and reasonably priced add-ons and modification kits.

–        We’d defined a number of user reactions and interactions that seemed likely to emerge in our product ecosystem. We now see that these responses, such as reflection, sharing, referring, collaborating, are likely to take place in unpredicted places and with unexpected combinations of people. We are now able to design our platform to offer logical solutions for user response in a wide variety of situations.

–        We discovered additional combinations and re-combinations of people with whom our users can be expected to utilize their kits. Because our kits privilege both solitary and collaborative flow, being able to develop products and directions to accommodate a wide mix of ages, developmental stages and group sizes gives us a competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.

We have been reminded frequently that the service blueprint is a living document. While it answers a great many questions, it is also of immense value in shining a light on future questions. We are increasingly clear on questions we will need to answer at various stages throughout our product development, launch and subsequent processes. We are refining our vision and shared ethos, and as we do so are looking at the blueprint to see where we should weave that into the specific interactions under our aegis. Additionally, we have noted places where we need to be on alert for customer feedback, strategic reviews and additional development.

And that’s the update from the play pen! Over and out.