STOP avoiding service blueprints + case study from an edtech startup

Calling all Product Managers, Customer Success Managers, UX Designers, startup founders, and content / UX designers: THIS is what you need to improve your business.

Don’t be intimidated by how complex service blueprints look. We’ll take you through the whole thing:

  • What a service blueprint is
  • Why you need a service blueprint
  • How to start creating service blueprints
  • How to use service blueprints

Just start and take it step by step - it will help you a lot in the future.

Let’s get started!

What is a service blueprint?

Before you get overwhelmed by all the fancy vocabulary (WTF are ”backstage actions” if your startup isn’t a stage?), rest assured it’s just like a user journey map - with more detail.

Service Blueprint (definition): a more in-depth user journey diagram that shows all processes involved in the journey, including processes not seen by the user.

The Service Blueprint includes:

  • Evidence
  • Customer actions / customer journey
  • Frontstage actions
  • Backstage actions
  • Support processes

Of course, you can add or change these depending on your startup and what processes you have in place.

I’ll break this down one by one in “How to start creating service blueprints” below. Then, I’ll share how we created a service blueprint at EntryLevel (an edtech startup), and what we learned.

Why you need a service blueprint

There are many benefits to having a service blueprint as a startup.

  • Clarity on processes across the company
  • Easier onboarding for team members
  • Insight on weaknesses and opportunities in existing processes

Since it’s easier and faster to do a service blueprint while you’re still in the startup stage, there’s no excuse to delay.

Example: learnings from an edtech startup

At EntryLevel, our service blueprint pointed out areas we needed to improve on, or processes we could better leverage. For example, we had been collecting survey responses from our students and completely forgot about it until our Head of Operations, Albert, created the service blueprint.

EntryLevel’s service blueprint also helped us communicate issues to the Product Team, who doesn’t have the same visibility as our support team does.

Our key learning?

How many issues the team didn’t know about.

Albert (Head of Operations and creator of our service blueprint) says, “sometimes you think you have a bunch of problems, but mapping it all out revealed a few cases where they shared one root cause.”

However, he notes that creating a service blueprint is not for the faint of heart. UX designers can take 1-2 weeks to conduct research (user interviews, surveys, etc.) to create a service blueprint. Fortunately, Albert already had 2 years of experience answering our support messages, so was able to create the blueprint much faster (or slower, if you count the 2 years of “research”).

Sometimes you think you have a bunch of problems, but mapping it all out revealed a few cases where they shared one root cause.

How to start creating service blueprints

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t worry.

Here’s a simplified step-by-step guide to help you through it.

There are also templates on Figjam and Miro to get you started.

Step-by-step guide to creating service blueprints

  1. Come up with a scenario of interest
  2. Map out the customer experience
  3. Note down what processes are needed to support each customer action
  4. Add arrows

And that’s it!

Example from EntryLevel

Now let’s see an example from EntryLevel’s service blueprint.

1. Come up with a scenario of interest

We were a bit ambitious here and mapped out the entire journey from discovery to taking our online tech program to offboarding.

Can we get a round of applause for our Head of Operations, Albert, who created this whole blueprint by himself?

2. Create a persona and map out the customer experience

Albert looked at a few different personas of our customers:

  1. An “ideal” customer who did everything the way we intended
  2. Someone who rushed through everything
  3. Someone who read no instructions
  4. Someone who was super unlucky and always found the gaps in our processes

Albert took screenshots of most of the steps our users go through, from onboarding to payment to completing our online tech programs. This included screenshots of our platform and screenshots of emails we send users.

But don’t worry if you don’t have screenshots! A short description on a sticky note works too.

3. Note down what processes are needed to support each customer action

The reason Albert included email screenshots was because it is a process we use to support a customer action.

Examples can include something as simple as a transactional payment confirmation email. Or even a promotional email.

(By the way, we A/B tested our email content and found that the email with photos of an EntryLevel certificate performed better. Case study coming soon - sign up for our email list to get notified.)

We also listed out other support processes that are less “close” to the user that the user doesn’t see, like our automated email funnels (rather than the email itself). We made sure to note which team was responsible for this. In our case, it was EntryLevel’s Growth Marketing team (and since we’re a startup, that team is 1 person!).

4. Add arrows

Surprisingly, this may be the most difficult part of the blueprint.

You can use different colours to symbolize different types of processes and connections. It’s really up to you to make the service blueprint work for you - so don’t worry about making it “correctly” as long as it makes sense to you and your team.

Service blueprints in detail

Now that you have a better idea of the high-level steps, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty.

Here are the typical things included in a service blueprint, and what they mean.

Don’t worry about making it “correctly” as long as it makes sense to you and your team.

1. Evidence

Hands up - you’re under arrest for tampering with the crime scene.

Just kidding, I don’t even know if you can get arrested for that.

But I picture a crime scene when thinking of what “evidence” to put in the service blueprint. It’s a good metaphor, because “evidence” is just what the user interacts with.

Imagine they’re physically “tampering” with your startup product’s crime scene “evidence” - what would they be touching?

If you have a physical product, it could be everything from packaging to the product itself.

If your offerings are online (or if they’re services), it could be your website, emails, receipts, notifications, and more.

Customer actions / customer journey

If you’re familiar with user journey maps, you’ll find this step super easy.

Customer actions are the interactions the user or “customer” has with your product or service.

This can look like visiting your website, checking your company’s social media accounts, or signing up for your mailing list.

And while we’re on the topic of a mailing list…sign up for ours to get weekly career insights!

Frontstage actions

Imagine you (or your product or service) are spotlighted on stage. You take a bow after your performance, and everyone applauds.

Okay, not all support processes end this happily, but you can dream, right?

As the name suggests, frontstage actions occur where the user can see them.

For example, answering social media DMs, hosting events with face-to-face interactions, and sending emails are all actions you take that users can interact with and see.

I like to think of it as actions where you can “take a bow” in full view of the user - and say thank you to the user for using your product or service.

Backstage actions

In contrast, these are actions you take that the user doesn’t see. But that doesn’t make it any less important - in fact, these processes can keep your product or service running day to day.

Ideally, these are the actions you should automate.

For edtech startups, this can look like the marketing team planning an email funnel or the operations team creating coupons for users.

Support processes

These are processes that support your team’s actions.

After you list out all the customer actions, frontstage actions, and backstage options, the support processes are what must occur for all those actions to take place.

So taking the example of our marketing team planning out an email funnel, support processes can include outlining the content on a note-taking tool (like Notion) or creating the email journey on an email marketing platform.


As you read through the different parts of a service blueprint, you can probably already see different “sections” falling into place - from actions and processes that are “closer” to the user to actions and processes that are unseen by the user.

These “sections” are divided using different types of lines. Lines in a service blueprint help you understand your role (and your team’s roles) and pinpoint areas of improvement by priority.

Line of interaction

This is the “closest” to the user - it’s where the user can directly interact with your startup or company.

Line of visibility

This line divides all actions the user can see against actions the user cannot see. It is between the frontstage (visible actions) and backstage (invisible actions) actions.

Line of internal interaction

This line is the division between processes and people who are involved in a specific action the user takes, and the processes and people who are not directly involved in these interactions.

This separates the support processes section from everything above it.

How to use service blueprints

Now that you know all the parts of a service blueprint, how do you actually use it?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Share with other teams for better communication, collaboration, and a more holistic view of current processes in your organization
  • Pinpoint weaknesses and opportunities in your processes and prioritize what to address
  • Identify processes to automate and become more efficient
  • Build it into your onboarding process so new hires get more context

Next steps

  1. Want to grow your product? Try our Growth Marketing or Product Management courses. Psst: ask us about our bulk purchase prices if you want your teams to upskill and be more efficient
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About EntryLevel

We help you learn and get experience so you can get hired.

To make learning more affordable, we offer a full refund for our programs once you complete them. You’ll also end the program with a portfolio of work that you can show off to recruiters.

Learn more about our programs here.

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Date originally published:
Jan 15, 2023
Date last updated:
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