Service Slices from the Castle

It’s the start of the second quarter for us at AC4D, but Jen and I were busy working over the break on the next step in the process for our Castle Hill Fitness project. For this portion we learned about and created service slices. Creating these allowed us to examine the behavior we observed in person by drawing it out visually from a few different perspectives. To do this, we began by finding portions of our transcribed data that had a lot of action and behavior happening in them.

We used the following sections:

  • an employee showing us different tools that they use to train clients
  • two employees performing their roles communicating with and assisting clients
  • an employee moving through the workflow of connecting clients with trainers

After we chose these transcript portions we combined them into a single document, numbered the lines, and printed it out. We then worked through each line to document what was happening through four different lenses:

  • Behavior and information exchange – the physical activity or exchange that was taking place or what was actually said or happened.
  • Power, policy, influence, and emotion – the feelings or driving force behind the activity, or exchange.
  • Artifacts – the physical objects that were involved.
  • Environment – the space where this the action is happening.

To do this, we pinned four large pieces of butcher paper to the walls of our work space, and after reading each line we’d draw the relevant information on that paper panel. Below is what we came up with over the course of three days.


The next step was to digitize this data into something that we could present to the client. Before doing this we took some time to look at what we’d made. We picked out portions we thought would be most interesting for the client to hear about. In the behavior and information exchange section we chose processes that seemed a little scattered, and repetitive or tedious. For example an employee showed us the process of documenting membership changes. As you can see below something that sounds very straightforward is actually a multistep process that takes a lot of time and effort.


While that last process mainly happened in the virtual space, we also followed an employee as they assisted a client who called looking for a lost wallet.



Again, this process involved a lot more effort than one would think, and the client never received a response, and so had no idea about what was involved and if the employee even went through the act of searching. This lack of response was intentional on the employee’s part which is why we decided to symbolize it with a dotted line to show an intentional inaction. They went on to explain saying,

“I try to minimize chains of communication like that – it can go on forever so I’ll usually tell people if we find it or if I can get that rescheduled I’ll call you, but if not then I won’t say anything.”

(line 81)

This was interesting to us, because it sounds like minimizing chains of communication is being down for efficiency, but there are other steps in the process where efficiency might have a greater impact.

An interesting area that came up in the power, policy, influence, and emotion service slice was around the process used to match clients with trainers.


At the top we see Avery has power and influence over both the training team and the training leads (clients who have requested personal training). She is in charge of pairing clients with a personal trainer and likes to handle these thoughtfully and strategically through a color coded organizational system. After she pairs the clients to members of the training team she expects the trainers to follow up with them and schedule their training sessions on their own. However, despite this expectation we saw her check to see if leads were being followed up with. We mapped this as a feeling of mistrust, but it could also be a feeling of responsibility or policy at play that she make sure a follow up occurred. At the bottom of the diagram we see that the training team also displays some emotions around trust in valuing transparency in how leads are assigned, taking on the responsibility of following up on assigned leads, and meeting Avery’s expectations.

When we look at how this process played out on the behavior and information exchange service slice diagram we can get a better idea of how participant actions might feed these emotions and policies, or vice versa how the emotions and policies have shaped participant actions. For example we can see that other participant actions and processes often feed into MindBody which is the enterprise software Castle Hill Fitness uses. However, the training lead process is more isolated with Avery only shown using MindBody to check the schedule. With most of the actions in the process being direct or siloed, it’s not difficult to see how trust would play a large role.


Client Feedback:

Overall the reaction was positive and it made them think about some of their processes and potential areas of improvement.

We also received some helpful feedback that we can use moving forward in future presentations. For example, we included slides showing where we were in the overall project. The client said they liked this and it gave helpful context of what we’d previously done and where we were going.

We also included images of the hand drawn versions of our service slice diagrams on the large pieces of butcher paper. We used these to show them in their entirety before focusing in on selected portions. The client really appreciated this and wished that the images had been bigger to provide more context and allow them to examine them. They also suggested titles on the slides for the diagrams to help remind any wandering minds what was being shown.


Here’s what we realized worked and didn’t work for us when we were creating our service slices.

Next time we conduct our research we need to create more opportunities for observing actions and behavior. For example, our research was focused on understanding a new member’s experience at the gym, but when we began looking for observed actions in our transcripts we did not have much that fit this requirement from the customer side. We have plenty of data around participants explaining things and telling us how they feel, but not a lot that’s verifiable activity that we witnessed. Which is exactly what we need to do service slices.

The first day of going through the transcript data that we’d combined to create these service slices together was slow. When we left we decided to go take some time to individually go through the transcripts and highlight what we saw as the key things for each item that could be applied to the different slices. Then when we met again we were able to move much quicker through the process. It helped that we’d already done a portion of the work by building our own opinions and understanding around each line. This also made it easier for us to discuss and see things from different perspectives as sometimes we came to different conclusions or interpretations.

Next up we will be working on creating insights from the themes that we previously created. We are also really excited that our client will be participating by joining us as we do this.