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Journal of Service Research

14(2) 180-200
Multilevel Service Design: ª The Author(s) 2011
Reprints and permission:
From Customer Value Constellation DOI: 10.1177/1094670511401901
to Service Experience Blueprinting
Lia Patrı́cio1, Raymond P. Fisk2, João Falcão e Cunha1, and
Larry Constantine3

The proliferation of complex service systems raises new challenges for service design and requires new methods. Multilevel
Service Design (MSD) is presented as a new interdisciplinary method for designing complex service systems. MSD synthesizes
contributions from new service development, interaction design, and the emerging field of service design. MSD enables integrated
development of service offerings at three hierarchical levels: (a) Designing the firm’s service concept with the customer value
constellation of service offerings for the value constellation experience; (b) Designing the firm’s service system, comprising its
architecture and navigation, for the service experience; and (c) Designing each service encounter with the Service Experience
Blueprint for the service encounter experience. Applications of the MSD method are described for designing a new retail grocery
service and for redesigning a bank service. MSD contributes an interdisciplinary service design method that accommodates
the cocreative nature of customer experiences and enables experience integration from the design of the service concept
through the design of the service system and service encounter.

service system design, customer experience, value constellation, blueprint, technology-enabled multi-interface services

Introduction cocreate value (Maglio et al. 2009). For example, customers

can cocreate value by combining service offerings from multi-
The rapid evolution of service systems raises new challenges ple firms, such as credit and insurance in the case of a home
for service design. Consensus is emerging across service fields
purchase. This constellation of service offerings can be viewed
that further research is needed to address these challenges in
as a system of service systems. At the firm level, each of these
marketing (Bitner and Brown 2006; Brown, Fisk, and Bitner
service offerings is enabled by a firm’s service system compris-
1994; Hauser, Tellis, and Griffin 2006), operations management
ing multiple service interfaces such as physical stores, the tele-
(Johnson et al. 2000; Menor, Tatikonda, and Sampson 2002;
phone, or the Internet. At each service encounter, the customer
Stuart and Tax 2004), innovation management (Karniouchina,
interacts with a concrete service interface, which is a service
Victorino, and Verma 2006), interaction design (Constantine
subsystem that integrates the physical environment, people,
and Lockwood 2002), design (Evenson 2008), and service and process. Designing these complex service systems requires
science (Ostrom et al. 2010). Some areas need particular
a holistic systems thinking approach (Jackson 2003; Norman
attention, such as the growing complexity of service systems,
2011), which focuses on designing the system components and
the emergence of multichannel services, customer cocreation
the networks of relationships that make the whole service offer-
of service experiences, and the need for interdisciplinary
ing more than the sum of its parts. This holistic perspective
methods. Together these trends have led to the emergence of
complements traditional reductionist approaches that do not
service design as a new field (Mager 2009) that takes a more
address the interactions between the parts of the service system
holistic view of the service system. This section describes
the new service challenges that motivated the development
of the Multilevel Service Design (MSD) method. 1
University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Texas State University–San Marcos, San Marcos, TX, USA
University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
Complex Service Systems
Corresponding Author:
Service offerings today are enabled by complex service sys- Lia Patrı́cio, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, School of
tems, which are configurations of people, technologies, and Engineering, University of Porto, R. Roberto Frias, 4200 – 465 Porto, Portugal
other resources that interact with other service systems to Email: lpatric@fe.up.pt
Patrı´cio 181

and may lead to optimizing one part in isolation without development (Karniouchina, Victorino, and Verma 2006;
considering overall system performance. Different service sys- Meyer and Schwager 2007; Roth and Menor 2003), but tech-
tem levels should be integrated into service design, but service nology infusion and the increasing complexity of service sys-
design approaches have typically only focused on one system tems require other competences such as computer science,
level at a time. engineering, social sciences, and the arts (Fisk and Grove
2008). Service innovation efforts have been hampered by their
Multi-Interface Services isolation in different academic disciplines and a lack of unify-
ing models and languages. These problems have been major
Technology trends have enabled the emergence of multi-
forces driving the emergence of IBM’s Service Science, Man-
interface service systems through which companies manage
agement and Engineering (SSME) initiative, which encourages
relationships with their customers (Rayport and Jaworski
integrating work from different fields to develop the new com-
2004). Multi-interface services are called multichannel ser-
petencies required in the service-led economy (Chesbrough and
vices in many research studies. Designing these service sys-
Spohrer 2006). The creation of integrative methods, tools, and
tems involves defining the mix of service offerings and
languages that unify these different perspectives is crucial for
interfaces, the tangible evidence, the service processes, peo-
the development of the service design field. The Service Expe-
ple’s roles in the processes (whether service representatives
rience Blueprint (SEB) method (Patrı́cio, Fisk, and Cunha
or customers), and the technology solutions that provide crucial
2008) represented a first step toward such unification by join-
support to the entire system. Multi-interface services are con-
ing management and technology perspectives for the integrated
sidered technology-driven service innovations (Johnson et al.
design of technology enabled multi-interface services. How-
2000), but many firms have introduced online services without
ever, the SEB method focuses only on multi-interface integra-
understanding customer experience needs or taking an overall
tion. Service system design needs to evolve to more holistic
view of the firm’s multi-interface offering. The result is fre-
methods that integrate the design of the different service sys-
quently a collection of incoherent service fragments that fail
tem levels from the definition of the overall service concept
to provide satisfying service experiences to customers (Patrı́cio,
to the design of each concrete interface.
Fisk, and Cunha 2008). In this context, researchers studying
This article presents MSD as a new interdisciplinary method
new service development have stressed the need to address
for integrative design of complex service systems. MSD
new issues related to multichannel service design (Hill et al.
synthesizes contributions from different fields, allowing inte-
2002; Menor, Tatikonda, and Sampson 2002; Neslin et al. 2006;
grated design of the service offering at three hierarchical levels:
Sousa and Voss 2006), such as the trade-off of efficiency versus
the firm’s service concept, the firm’s service system, and the
personalization, the definition of the offline/online mix, resource
service encounter. The next section analyzes research from dif-
allocation across channels and multichannel coordination.
ferent fields that provided the foundation for the development
of the MSD method. The second section presents the MSD
Design for the Customer Experience method, defining its core design process, concepts, and models.
In the new service-centered paradigm, value is no longer The third and fourth sections describe applications of the MSD
embedded in tangible offerings but is cocreated with customers method to designing a new retail grocery service and redesign-
through relational exchanges in interaction experiences ing a banking service. Finally, the last section presents the con-
(Normann 2001; Vargo and Lusch 2004). Instead of delivering tributions and managerial implications of MSD.
preproduced offerings, firms can only offer value propositions,
which customers then transform into value through use (Gupta Service System Design as an Emerging Field
and Vajic 2000; Normann and Ramı́rez 1993). In this context,
customer experiences can be viewed as internal and subjective Service design is an emerging field (Mager 2009) whose meth-
responses to any contact with a company (Meyer and Schwager ods are still being developed and are often borrowed from
2007) and are increasingly important to differentiating and add- related areas. Service design has been traditionally viewed as
ing value to a firm’s offerings (Pine and Gilmore 1998). Recent a specific stage of the new service development process
research has advocated a more holistic view of the customer expe- (Edvardsson et al. 2000). However, the new service design
rience (Gentile, Spiller, and Noci 2007; Verhoef et al. 2008) and field has adopted a broader approach, involving understanding
some approaches have been proposed for managing customer users and their context, understanding service providers and
experiences (Bardon et al. 2002; Berry, Carbone, and Haeckel social practices, and translating this understanding into the
2002). However, further research on service experience design development of evidence and service systems interaction
is still needed (Stuart and Tax 2004; Zomerdijk and Voss 2009). (Evenson 2008). When designing complex systems, thinking
with models helps bridge the gap between problem and solution
(Dubberly, Evenson, and Robinson 2008). Models synthesize
The Need for Interdisciplinary Methods the understanding of users’ needs and possible solutions in
Interdisciplinary service innovation research has been called ways that help different stakeholders explore new ideas.
for in academe and industry. The integration of marketing and Service systems can be modeled and designed at different
operations perspectives has been a concern of new service levels. The network of service offerings provided by different
182 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

firms can be viewed as a system of systems. The firm’s configura- system. In the Servuction framework (Langeard et al. 1981),
tion of people, technologies, and other resources can be viewed as the service system comprises the internal organizational sys-
the service system at the organizational level. This service system tem, the physical environment, the contact personnel, and the
can be decomposed into several subsystems, such as each service customers. The Service Theater framework (Fisk, Grove, and
channel. When modeling customer needs, Human Activity John 2008) views service experiences as theatrical. In service
Modeling (Constantine 2008) provides a hierarchical view of user theater, service systems comprise both the frontstage, where
activity, decomposed into tasks and operations, such as applying the service interaction occurs in view of customers, and the
for a mortgage loan and interacting with a sales representative backstage, where internal support processes are hidden from
to get advice on that loan. Service design involves different com- customers. These frameworks have been further developed and
ponents, such as the definition of the service concept, the service integrated with representations of the service delivery system
system, and the service process (Edvardsson et al. 2000). for both high-contact and low-contact services (Lovelock and
Although these components do not represent hierarchical levels, Wirtz 2006). However, these frameworks do not offer an inte-
the service concept and the service system concept can be adapted grated view of the multi-interface system and are not connected
for designing the different levels of service systems. with higher and lower levels of service design. Glusko orga-
nizes service systems into seven design contexts (Glusko
2010): (a) person-to-person service; (b) technology enhanced
Service Concept and Value Constellation Models person-to-person service; (c) self-service; (d) multichannel ser-
The service concept defines the benefits a service offers custom- vice; (e) multiple device service; (f) computational service; and
ers (Edvardsson et al. 2000). The flower of service metaphor has (g) location-based and context aware service. These seven con-
been widely used to represent the service concept (Lovelock texts can all be present in the multichannel service system, and
1994), comprising the core and supplementary services; but this the computational, backstage component is an integral part of
is an internal view from within the firm. Services are increasingly the service provided through any of the other channels. How-
created by value networks, so it is important to adopt systems ever, this classification framework does not offer a method for
thinking for service design (Norman 2009), defining the firm’s integrated design of the seven contexts.
service concept within the context of its value-creating system. When designing technology-enabled multi-interface
At this strategic level, Normann and Ramirez (1993) developed services, Usage Centered Design’s Navigation Architecture
the concept of a value constellation, which represents the network (Constantine 2008) can also be useful. This system’s naviga-
of actors and their relationships that jointly create an offering. tion architecture specifies how the overall user interface breaks
This value constellation can be viewed as a system of service down into interaction contexts, how they are grouped, how they
systems. According to Normann (2001), a firm can upframe its are presented to the users, and how users navigate them. This
perspective by understanding the firm’s offering as an input model can help design the overall structure of the multi-
into creating customer value while also considering the inputs interface service system, but so far, it has only been applied
offered by other firms. This perspective widens the service design to technology system contexts. In designing experience-
space, enabling companies to creatively design frame-breaking centric services, the customer journey and touchpoints are two
systemic solutions that change the whole value-creating system. important design process concepts (Zomerdijk and Voss 2009).
This approach opens new forms of service logic innovation Touchpoints occur whenever a customer interacts with the ser-
(Michel, Brown, and Gallan 2008), such as changing customer vice provider across multiple channels and, therefore, are sim-
roles in value cocreation, changing the firm’s processes of value ilar to service encounters (Bitner, Ostrom, and Meuter 2000).
integration, or repositioning the firm in the value constellation. The customer journey refers to a series of touchpoints, involv-
The Apple iPad, with its access to thousands of apps via iTunes, ing all activities and events related to the delivery of the service
is a good example of how firms can reconfigure value constella- from the customer’s perspective. This view helps in under-
tions to enable customers to cocreate experiences in innovative standing the service experience across multiple contacts but
ways. Normann’s value constellation framework provides an does not offer an overall view of the service system structure or
insightful approach for positioning the firm’s service concept in an integrated approach to the different levels of service design.
the value-creating system. However, this high-level approach has
not been used in service design. There is no systematic process,
yet, for positioning the service concept in the value constellation
Service Encounter Models
before moving to more concrete levels of service system design. When drilling down to the design of each service encounter or
touchpoint, Service Blueprinting (Shostack 1984) provides a
diagrammatic tool for designing the service provision. Service
Service System Models Blueprinting started as a process for mapping all the key activ-
The firm’s service system can be viewed as an integrated whole ities involved in service delivery and production, specifying the
that enables customers to cocreate their service experiences linkages between these activities. Service Blueprinting has
according to the positioning of the service concept in the value evolved to include other aspects of service delivery, such as the
constellation. Several frameworks have been developed in the distinction between frontstage and backstage and the physical
service management field to represent the firm’s service evidence. Service Blueprinting’s customer focus and visual
Patrı´cio 183

Understanding the Designing the

customer experience service offering

Designing the Value Constellation Customer Value

service concept Experience Constellation

Service System
Designing the Service Experience Architecture and
service system Navigation

Designing the Service Encounter Service Experience

Service encounter Experience Blueprint

Figure 1. General model of multilevel service design.

representation of the service delivery are considered strong aids The Multilevel Service Design (MSD) Method
for service innovation (Bitner, Ostrom, and Morgan 2008).
MSD was developed according to a design research approach
From software engineering, UML Activity Diagrams can also
(Forlizzi, Zimmerman, and Evenson 2008) for creating new
support interaction design for a concrete interface. An activity
service design methods. According to this approach, the criteria
diagram is a flowchart that depicts the actions taken over time
for evaluating new design methods should be process detail,
by the different actors (Booch, Rumbaugh, and Jacobson
invention, relevance, and extensibility. In this section, the pro-
1999). Activity Diagrams resemble Service Blueprints in that
cess detail of the MSD method is described so that the design
they represent the flow of events in the service provision over
process can be replicated. The following sections with the
time. However, Activity Diagrams are structured around the
industry applications demonstrate MSD’s invention and rele-
software system and lack all other elements of service design,
vance by providing new insights that are not offered by existing
such as the line of visibility or the tangible evidence.
service design methods. The application of MSD to two differ-
More recently, the Service Experience Blueprint method
ent service industries of retailing and banking suggests that
(Patrı́cio, Cunha, and Fisk 2009; Patrı́cio, Fisk, and Cunha
MSD can be extended to many other service contexts. The
2008) integrated the design logics of Service Blueprinting and
MSD method unites the contributions of different fields and
Activity Diagrams. This method uses the Service Experience
designs the service offering through the different levels of cus-
Blueprint diagram to design service encounters in a way that
tomer experience (see Figure 1). This method recognizes that
enhances multi-interface service experiences. The Service Expe-
organizations cannot design customer experiences, but service
rience Blueprint method involves studying customer service tasks
systems can be designed for the customer experience.
and customer experience requirements independently of the ser-
vice interface used, such as getting personal advice for a mortgage
loan. The results are used to analyze which interface is best suited
to provide the desired experience for each task and to enable The MSD Process
designing service interface links that guide the customer across According to the Analysis-Synthesis Bridge Model (Dubberly,
interfaces whenever such flexibility enhances the service experi- Evenson, and Robinson 2008), the design process starts with
ence. Service Experience Blueprint represents a first step toward observation and investigation of the current situation. Next,
an interdisciplinary method for integrated design of the multi- modeling forms a bridge between problem and solution, by
interface service system. However, the Service Experience Blue- helping interpret and systematize the understanding of the
print focuses on lower levels of multi-interface integration and existing situation and explore new potential solutions. Finally,
offers no support for designing the service concept. Service through an iterative process, idealized solutions are materia-
design is an emerging field and, despite many useful contributions lized into prototypes and ultimately finished forms. The MSD
from multiple areas, further work is needed to create a new inter- method follows this approach, studying the customer experi-
disciplinary method that accommodates the cocreative nature of ence and creating a set of interrelated models that bridge under-
customer experience through hierarchical levels of service standing the customer experience and designing the service
design. The next section presents the MSD method, which offering (see Figure 2). The MSD process involves four steps,
addresses the challenges posed by this new service context. as shown in Table 1.
184 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

Understanding the Designing the

Customer experience Service offering
Personal broker
Value Constellation Experience recommen- Real
Designing dations estate

the Service House Mortgage House Registration

buying a
house Customer Value
Info loan purchase
office Real estate
Concept information
Insurance Bank

Service Experience
the Service
Inf o Loan …
System Contract
search applic.

Service System
Service System Architecture Navigation

Designing Service Encounter Experience

the Service Select Analyze … Experience
loan inf o loan inf o
Encounter Blueprint

Figure 2. Component models of multilevel service design.

MSD requires the formation of a multidisciplinary team, observation, in-depth interviews, focus groups, usability
which includes the manager of the business area and repre- testing, or walkthroughs (Preece, Rogers, and Sharp 2002).
sentatives from marketing, information systems, and opera- The qualitative study in MSD enables mapping the overall
tions. The MSD models help the team analyze and discuss customer activity, service activities, and service tasks,
the existing solution, revealing problems in the customer which are related to the different levels of the customer
experience and potential areas for service innovation. These experience (see Figure 2). MSD also enables a better under-
models are also used to generate and select possible service standing of the desired experience at these different levels.
design concepts and solutions, comparing and evaluating The qualitative study can be supplemented with quantitative
different alternatives. For a more detailed analysis of the methods to evaluate specific features or to make a global
correspondence between customer experience and design assessment of the customer experience at a given level. This
solutions, Goal Oriented Analysis (Mylopoulos, Chung, and understanding provides the basis for designing the service
Yu 1999) can evaluate how different design alternatives offering at its different levels.
contribute to the desired customer experience. Goal
Oriented Analysis has been previously used in the SEB
method for multi-interface service design (Patrı́cio, Cunha,
Step 2: Designing the Service Concept
and Fisk 2009). The interrelated MSD models allow for tra-
ceability and integration between these different levels of Step 2 adopts the Edvardsson et al. (2000) definition of the ser-
service design as high-level decisions provide guidance for vice concept as the benefits that the service is expected to offer
the lower levels. The next subsections present the steps, to the customer. Instead of viewing the service concept as the
concepts, and models of MSD in detail. bundle of core and supplementary services internally offered
by the firm (Lovelock 1994), MSD defines the service concept
as the firm’s positioning in the customer value constellation
Step 1: Studying the Customer Experience (CVC) including the services offered and the links and partner-
Step 1 starts with an in-depth study of the customer experi- ships established with other organizations in the network to
ence at its different levels. MSD uses qualitative methods enhance the firm’s value proposition (see Figure 2). Therefore,
(Strauss and Corbin 1998) to get a rich and detailed under- MSD focuses on the firm’s value proposition but defines the
standing of the different levels of the customer experience. value proposition in the broader context of the value network
This stage involves data collection techniques such as within which it is embedded.
Patrı´cio 185

Table 1. MSD Steps

MSD Steps Retail Application Bank Application

Step 1: Study the three levels of Study the three levels of grocery management Study the three levels of buying a car
customer experience experience experience
Qualitative study Observation and interviews with 31 customers Observation and interviews with 26 bank
Quantitative study Survey with 505 customers Survey with 420 bank customers

Step 2: Design the service concept Design the new retail service concept Define the bank loan service concept
Understand the value constella- Map the value constellation experience for buying Map the value constellation experience for
tion experience groceries buying a car
Design the service concept with Design a new grocery management service concept in Design the mortgage service concept in the
the customer value constellation the customer value constellation for buying groceries customer value constellation for buying a

Step 3: Design the service system Design the retail service system for the new service Redesign the bank service system for loans
Understand the service Map the service experience for the new grocery Map the service experience for the mortgage
experience management service service
Design the service system Design the SSA for the new grocery management service Design the SSA for the mortgage service
Design the service system Design the SSN for the new grocery management Design the SSN for the mortgage service
navigation service

Step 4: Design the service encounter Design the retail service encounters Design the bank loan service encounters
Understand the service encounter Map the experience for each service encounter of the Map the experience for each service encoun-
experience new grocery management service ter of the loan service
Design the service encounters Design the grocery management service encounters Design the loan service encounters with the
with the service experience with the SEB SEB

Understanding the Value Constellation Experience (VCE). Designing customers use their services, opening new possibilities for
the service concept starts with understanding the value con- service innovation.
stellation experience. The value constellation experience is
cocreated through the interactions between the customer and Designing the service concept through the Customer Value
all service organizations that enable a given customer activ- Constellation (CVC). In MSD, the CVC model enables designing
ity, such as buying a house. In-depth studies with customers the service concept. The CVC represents the set of service
in Step 1 enable the decomposition of the different activities offerings and respective interrelationships that enable custom-
that form the value constellation experience and the identi- ers to cocreate their value constellation experience for a given
fication of the most important experience factors. As shown customer activity. The MSD method adds the word customer to
in Figure 2, the value constellation experience for buying a the value constellation and puts the customer activity that is
house can be decomposed into several service activities: (a) being supported at the center of the value network. Based on
searching for a house, which may be done through a real understanding the value constellation experience and its
estate broker; (b) obtaining a mortgage loan, which may decomposition, the MSD analyzes existing service offerings
be provided by a bank or loan company; (c) purchasing the that respond to those needs, which builds the CVC (see Figure
house, which may be done with the services of a title regis- 2). The bank’s mortgage loan, the real estate broker service,
tration firm; and (d) decorating the house, which may be and the decoration service are each part of the CVC that sup-
done with assistance from many service firms. Although ports the house purchase activity. The concept of CVC recog-
experience research has adopted a holistic approach, it has nizes that value is cocreated with a network of organizations
only addressed the customer experience at the firm level. beyond the firm’s boundaries. By broadening the design space
MSD’s broader view is crucial for understanding customer beyond the firm’s boundaries with the CVC, the firm can ana-
experience beyond the narrower view of the service firm. lyze its current service offering and explore new alternatives
For a bank, it is important to understand that loan experi- for repositioning its service concept to enhance its contribution
ences are but one component of buying a house. It is crucial to the value constellation experience. For example, knowing
to identify the additional components necessary to enhance that house search is an important part of the house purchase
the value constellation experience. This view helps service value constellation experience, the bank can partner with infor-
providers understand the broader context within which mation services, such as newspapers, to develop a new real
186 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

estate online service that helps customers find their house and Based on the understanding of the service experience, the top
also offer information about the bank’s mortgage. The design row of the SSA depicts the service activity (such as a mortgage
of the service concept guides the subsequent levels of service loan) decomposed into its service tasks (such as information
design, as it defines the firm’s positioning that needs to be sup- search, decision advice, application, waiting for bank decision,
ported by the service system and each service encounter. contracting, and post-contracting). The left column of the SSA
depicts the actors involved in the service experience in three
groups: the customer, the frontstage service interfaces, and the
Step 3: Designing the Firm’s Service System backstage support people and IT systems. Based on this analy-
In Step 3, the firm designs its service system to enhance the sis, the body of the matrix defines the mix of alternative service
service experience, according to the firm’s positioning in the interfaces and backstage processes that support each task in the
CVC. The MSD method adopts the Maglio et al. (2009) concept service experience. According to the desired service experience
of service system as a configuration of people, technologies, and and the bank’s decisions, tasks such as information gathering
other resources. For example, to support its previously defined may be available in all interfaces, whereas tasks such as advice
mortgage service concept, the bank needs to design the service may only be available at the physical interface or the telephone.
system for the desired mortgage service experience and define This integrated view of the SSA can identify breakdowns in the
the mix of service interfaces that enable the mortgage process, existing service system or to explore new possible solutions.
the support processes, and their interconnections. Whereas the SSA provides a static view, the SSN offers a
dynamic view of the service system. Based on the matrix devel-
Understanding the service experience. The service experience
oped in the SSA, the SSN maps the alternative paths customers
is cocreated through all interactions between a customer and a
may take across different service encounters forming the ser-
firm’s service system to accomplish a given service activity
vice experience (see Figure 2). Each path represents one possi-
and includes all the different service encounters with the firm
ble customer journey across different touchpoints or service
across different service interfaces. The service experience can
encounters. The SSN view enables better identification and
be seen as the result of the customer journey and is the level
design of service interface links that enable customers to
traditionally addressed by customer experience research. In
smoothly move from one interface to another in the service
MSD, in-depth studies with customers enable the decomposi-
experience. Often, customers like to search for mortgage infor-
tion of the mortgage loan experience to all the moments of con-
mation on the Internet but need personal advice before making
tact between the customer and the loan company necessary to
a decision. To enhance the service experience, the bank can
receive and use the mortgage, such as searching for information
change the SSA (adding chat advice functionalities to the Inter-
online or getting advice in the physical branch. Understanding
net service) and/or can change the SSN (designing service
this level is important for designing the service system because
interface links that guide customers from the Internet service
it reveals how different service encounters form the customer
to telephone or physical branch advice whenever needed). By
journey, the paths and service interfaces customers use, and the
offering customers an interface mix and alternative customer
factors that enable or inhibit the desired service experience.
journeys, the SSA and SSN accommodate the interactive and
This analysis is important to reveal breakdowns in the multi-
cocreative nature of services. The SSA and SSN provide struc-
interface service experience, which highlights opportunities for
ture and navigation views of the service system that guide the
improvements in the firm’s service system.
design of each service encounter.
Designing the service system through the Service System
Architecture (SSA) and the Service System Navigation
(SSN). Based on understanding the service experience, the Step 4: Designing the Service Encounter
firm’s service system is designed to enable customers to follow In Step 4, service encounters are defined as the moments of inter-
multiple patterns of navigation across service interfaces action between the customer and the firm and may take place in
through the SSA and SSN. This includes three components. multiple interfaces, such as the Internet or a physical store (Bitner,
First, for each service task, the service system should offer Ostrom, and Meuter 2000). Service encounters are also called
an interface mix that enables customers to choose their pre- touchpoints in the service design field (Zomerdijk and Voss
ferred service interface. Second, the service system should 2009). At this level, service designers need to define the interac-
enable customers to smoothly navigate across service inter- tion setting, interaction process, and the role of each participant.
faces through the different tasks of the service activity. Third,
instead of replicating every offering in every service interface, Understanding the Service Encounter Experience (SEE). The
the service system should enhance the service experience while service encounter experience is cocreated through customer
contributing to efficient resource allocation among interfaces. interactions at a given service interface for a service task, such
The MSD method employs two models for the design pro- as getting mortgage information on the Internet. This concrete
cess at the system level (see Figure 2): SSA and SSN. The SSA interface level has typically been the focus of interaction
defines the structure of the service system, providing an inte- design. In MSD, in-depth studies with customers enable map-
grated view of the multi-interface offering and support pro- ping the process customers use to cocreate their experiences for
cesses across the different tasks of the service experience. each service encounter or touchpoint and identifies important
Patrı´cio 187

experience factors. For example, the Internet service encounter Step 1: Studying the Levels of Home Grocery
for mortgage information is studied in detail: how the customer Management Experience
logs in, finds, selects, and analyzes mortgage information. It is
also important to understand factors that enable a desired ser- Following the steps of the MSD method, the project started
vice encounter experience, such as ease of use or usefulness with a qualitative study to get an in-depth understanding of the
of a service interface. different levels of the customer experience. Following a quali-
tative approach, the sample was defined according to the theo-
Designing the service encounter with the Service Experience retical relevance of cases (Strauss and Corbin 1998). Frequent
Blueprint (SEB) diagram. The MSD method uses the SEB dia- and infrequent users of the online and physical retail stores
gram (Patrı́cio, Fisk, and Cunha 2008) to design each concrete from two Portuguese metropolitan areas were divided into 20
service encounter, such as loan information gathering on the female and 11 male customers. The study included data collec-
Internet (see Figure 2). Based on the detailed understanding tion techniques such as individual and focus group interviews,
of the service encounter experience, the SEB maps the actions supplemented with observation through walkthroughs and
of the different participants in the service encounter, both front- usability testing of the online service (Preece, Rogers, and
stage and backstage. The SEB diagram depicts lines of interac- Sharp 2002). These interviews were organized into four parts.
tion, lines of visibility, fail points, waiting points, and service In the first part, customers were invited to talk about their value
interface links. The service interface link represents a point constellation experiences for home grocery management. This
in the service encounter where the customer should be guided discussion identified the main activities involved, the different
to another interface to enhance the service experience. Again, services used, and the drivers for creating the desired experi-
SEB is used to map the existing service encounter but is also ence. Customers were then invited to talk about their service
used to explore other design alternatives that may enhance the experience with the retail firm across different service encoun-
service encounter experience. For example, when customers ters and different grocery purchase tasks. Then, with the sup-
gather mortgage information on the Internet, this service can port of online computer access, customers were invited to
explicitly offer the option to receive advice from other service explain how they used the retailer’s online service as they
interfaces. SEB offers a detailed view that enables designing walked through specific service encounters, to get a detailed
the concrete service interface without losing the multi- understanding of different service encounter experiences.
interface perspective. Finally, customers were invited to make suggestions for service
With this multilevel perspective, MSD offers a holistic improvements. All interviews were video recorded and tran-
view, from the service concept level to the multi-interface ser- scribed literally. Data analysis followed qualitative analysis
vice system level and to each service encounter. The different guidelines for the development of categories in an iterative pro-
levels of MSD provide different views of the service offering cess (Charmaz 2006).
that can be used by different members of the design team and The qualitative stage was supplemented with a quantitative
different decision makers. Whereas software engineers may be study that evaluated the multi-interface aspect of the retail ser-
more interested in detailed SEB models to identify the use vice experience (for a detailed presentation of the quantitative
cases for their information systems, business managers are study see Patrı́cio and Fisk 2011). Following a scale develop-
more interested in viewing the SSA and SSN to make more ment approach (Churchill 1979), the service experience factors
structural decisions. With these sets of models, team members identified in the qualitative study were used to develop a survey
can concentrate on their preferred design level while also questionnaire. After pretesting with 86 customers, the survey
understanding how their decisions impact the other design lev- was administered by phone to a sample of 505 retail customers
els. The next two sections demonstrate how MSD can be who used both the online service and the physical store. Fol-
applied to very different service contexts, which includes both lowing scale development procedures, data analysis involved
the design of a new service (European retailer) and the redesign exploratory factor analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and
of an existing service (Portuguese bank). structural equation modeling to purify and validate the scale
(Hair et al. 2006). This quantitative study enabled identification
of the most important factors at the retail service experience
Application of MSD to Designing a New Retail level and of areas for improvement. Together, the results of the
Service qualitative and quantitative studies of the customer experience
The European retailer has a multi-interface service system with were used as input for designing the retail service offering at its
large retail stores, an online shopping service, and a call center different levels.
support service. The project objectives were to redesign the
existing service to improve the customer experience and to
develop new service offerings that enhance value creation for Step 2: Designing a New Retail Service Concept
the customer and the firm. The project team involved the man- Understanding the Value Constellation Experience (VCE) for
agement of the retail service, the management of the different grocery management. The value constellation experience for
service interfaces, the marketing department, and the informa- managing groceries was defined as being cocreated through
tion systems department. the interactions with all service organizations associated with
188 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

Value constellation experience for managing home groceries

Stock Need Store Product

Grocery list Purchase Transport
control recognition selection selection

Retail service

Information Product Delivery

search selection Picking Checkout option Delivery

Product search and selection

service encounter experience

Login Analyze
Search for Add
Internet productin …
products product to cart
service formation

Figure 3. Decomposition of customer activities for the different levels of the customer experience for managing home groceries.

service experience fit into the value constellation experience

and which customer activities were not covered by the existing
retailer service offering. In this case, the retailer provided the
product selection, purchase, and delivery activities of the value
Specialty Other
stores constellation experience for home groceries. Customers per-
large stores
Medium formed other activities, such as controlling their grocery stock
stores and making lists, for which no services were available. This
information Managing presented opportunities to innovate by developing new services
services home grocery not offered by the existing network of service providers.

Designing the new retail service concept through the Customer

Retailer Value Constellation (CVC). Based on the results of the customer
large stores
home delivery
experience study and the work with the multidisciplinary team,
Retailer a new grocery service concept was designed. The understand-
online ing of the value constellation experience and the respective net-
work of services were used to map the existing CVC (see
Retailer’s existing service concept
Figure 4). The overall activity of home grocery management
is at the center of the CVC, surrounded by the services that
Figure 4. Retailer’s service concept positioning in the Customer enable the value constellation experience. The CVC was then
Value Constellation for managing home groceries. used to explore new service innovation possibilities, such as
(a) adding new services that were now being provided by other
managing home groceries. The study showed that this value service providers in the CVC; (b) establishing new links with
constellation experience involved not only grocery purchases other service providers in the CVC to create integrated service
but also other activities associated with home groceries, such offerings; or (c) offering new services to support home grocery
as stock control and making grocery lists (see Figure 3). These activities previously undertaken by the customer.
results enabled mapping the customer activities and identifying Through the work of the multidisciplinary team, this per-
the services related to grocery management. This high level spective enabled creating a new service concept that offers
perspective allowed for a better understanding of how the retail an integrated solution not only for grocery buying but also for
Patrı´cio 189

Wholesaling Online service

Specialty Other
stores large Online service
stores efficiency
Product Muli-interface
information Managing 7,66
home grocery integraon

Grocery Store personal

management contact
Retailer support service
0 2 4 6 8 10
home delivery
Retailer Figure 6. Assessment of multi-interface experience factors—retail
Drive large stores service (construct means of summated scales 0–10).
through Retailer
service online
physical store factors (ease of use and organization of services-
New retail service concept cape, depth and breadth of product and services available, and
personal contact), online service factors (ease of use, depth and
Figure 5. Retailer’s new grocery buying service concept and recon- breadth of products and services available, and order fulfill-
figuration of the Customer Value Constellation for managing home ment), and multi-interface integration (integration and consis-
groceries. tency among service interfaces). The qualitative study was
supplemented with a quantitative study focused on the multi-
interface service experience. As shown in Appendix A, the
the value constellation experience for managing home gro-
scale dimensions identified for the multi-interface service
ceries (see Figure 5). With this new service concept, the retailer
experience were (a) personal contact at the physical store, (b)
offers a full service that supports new activities previously
efficiency of the online service, (c) fulfillment of the online ser-
undertaken by the customer, offering customers a shopping
vice, and (d) multi-interface service integration. The results of
plan that can comprise both online and physical store purchases
the quantitative study provided inputs for the design of the
with home delivery, or pick-up at a drive-through at the store.
firm’s service system. As depicted in Figure 6, integration of
By broadening the design space beyond the existing boundaries
the multi-interface offering was a low performing factor, which
of the firm, innovative ways to cocreate value with customers
indicated this area needed improvement.
were found by reconfiguring the firm’s offerings in the CVC.

Designing the retailer service system through the SSA and

Step 3: Designing the Service System for the New Retail SSN. At the middle level, the MSD method enabled designing
Service Concept the retailer service system to support the new service concept.
Understanding the retail service experience. At the middle Building upon the study of the service experience and the work
level, the retail service experience was defined as being cocre- with the multidisciplinary team, the existing SSA was devel-
ated through all the service encounters between the customer oped for the existing service (see Figure 7). The SSA depicts
and the retail firm for managing groceries. The qualitative the different tasks of the retail service experience on the top
study showed how the existing retailer service experience row, involving product selection, checkout process, picking the
could be decomposed into a set of service encounter experi- items, and order delivery. The body of the matrix shows that
ences for specific service tasks, such as selecting products or almost all service tasks are offered in both the Internet and the
checking out (see Figure 3). Detailed analysis of the qualitative physical store interfaces. The retailer service system was then
data also revealed typical customer journeys across service redesigned to reflect the new service concept previously
interfaces: customers made large online purchases periodically, defined and to enhance the service experience according to the
to compensate for the home delivery charge. The online service study results (see Figure 8). To support the new home grocery
allowed customers to define lists and retrieve their last order. management service concept, the retailer SSA was extended
Many customers deleted or added new products to these online with new service tasks such as service registration, shopping
lists according to their needs each time they purchased. Cus- plan, and shopping trigger. To respond to customer experience
tomers also went to smaller physical stores to replenish perish- needs for flexibility and multi-interface integration, the body of
able grocery products at least weekly (often from a competing the matrix shows that the new service is mostly offered online
retail chain). to reduce the customer burden, but the retailer also offers home
The qualitative study also allowed for the identification of delivery and drive-through pick-up at the physical store to
service experience factors. These were categorized into increase multi-interface integration.
190 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

Existing retail service experience

Product Selecon Checkout Process Picking Order Delivery

Customer Customer

Internet Interface
Service Interfaces

Telephone Interface

Physical store



Backend systems

Figure 7. Service system architecture for existing retail service.

New retail service experience

Service Shopping
Shopping Plan Purchase Picking Order Delivery
Registraon Trigger


Service Interfaces


Physical store




Figure 8. Service system architecture for new retail service.

Patrı´cio 191

New retail service experience

Service Shopping
Shopping Plan Purchase Picking Order Delivery
Registraon Trigger

Sign up for Select dates Confirm products,
dates and payment Pick-up order Receive delivery
the service and products

Present service Present service Present order Order

informaon opons e-mail confirmaon
Service Interfaces

Make delivery

Transmit order

Order pick-up

Physical store



Service Register user Raise order Pick Keep Order

registraon opons trigger Save Order Products Record


Figure 9. Service system navigation for new retail service.

The SSN enables mapping possible customer journeys they identified concrete problems at the retail store or the
across service interfaces and explicitly designing the necessary online service. One of the most frequently mentioned issues
links between service interfaces to assure a smooth experience was customer difficulty in finding products from the thousands
across service encounters. As shown in Figure 9, the customer available. These findings pointed out the need to improve the
can register online for the service (with a better delivery rate) search capabilities of the online service to enhance the existing
and make a shopping plan with several possible lists according service encounter experience. The study also showed that time
to personal shopping preferences. For example, the customer taken to create a list was a barrier to online service adoption.
can have a monthly purchase list and a weekly fresh and dairy Customers used these lists but also enjoyed flexibility in their
products list. According to the shopping plan, the service sys- choices. These results provided important clues for designing
tem can send a trigger e-mail message with the chosen list of the service encounters of the new service offering.
more products several days before the planned purchase. The
customer may then place the order online and choose home
Designing the retail service encounters through Service
delivery or in-store pickup. With the SSA and SSN, the
Experience Blueprint (SEB). The service encounter level of
multi-interface service system was designed in an integrated
MSD operationalizes the different touchpoints of the service
way, taking advantage of interface synergies to enhance the
system previously depicted in the SSA and SSN with the
service experience and support the firm’s service concept.
SEB diagram. Figure 10 shows the SEB for the two first
steps of the SSN (registration and shopping plan) for the new
Step 4: Designing the Service Encounters for the New service. When the customer enters the online service, the new
Retail Service home grocery management service is presented with informa-
Understanding the retail service encounter experiences. The tion about benefits and reduced delivery price. If this new
service encounter experience was defined as being cocreated service is selected, an online form appears with the type of
through each interaction with the retailer for a specific grocery purchases for the customer’s shopping plan, providing the
service task, such as searching for product information online. opportunity to create different shopping lists. To reduce the
The study of the service encounter experience provided the burden of creating lists the service encounter was designed
detailed information necessary, both in terms of the operations to offer suggestions according to customer’s previous pur-
of each service encounter and the experience factors. Usability chase patterns, allowing the customer to add or delete prod-
tests and walkthroughs were especially relevant at this level, as ucts and schedule orders.
192 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

Figure 10. Service experience blueprint for registration and shopping plan interaction experience.

Based on the customer’s registered shopping plan, a ser- products: loans and credit cards. This was a rich opportunity for
vice link was created between the registration service developing and testing the MSD method in another context,
encounter and the order service encounter. The system then involving the redesign of an existing service offering with a
sends a trigger e-mail message on the defined date. This trig- focus on the multi-interface service experience without chang-
ger includes the product list previously defined by the cus- ing the service concept.
tomer for that type of order. Since the study showed that
customers like flexibility in product choice and order sched-
ule, other options were added. First, the trigger message con- Step 1: Studying the Levels of Bank Loan Customer
tains other product suggestions according to customer Experience
preferences to enable the customer to increase the variety
of products selected. Second, the customer has the option The first step of the MSD method, like the retail application,
to make, change, cancel, or ask to be reminded later, which involved the study of different levels of customer experience
adds to flexibility. Finally, taking advantage of multi- for bank loans. This study followed the same research design
interface synergies, the customer can ask for home delivery, as the retail service study. The qualitative study involved
or pick-up at a store drive-through service. With the multile- in-depth individual interviews with 26 multi-interface bank
vel approach of MSD method, each service encounter was customers, comprising 18 men and 8 women in two Portuguese
designed to enable customers to interactively cocreate their cities. Loans are considered a more personal matter, so only
retail service and value constellation experiences. individual interviews were collected (12 were tape recorded
and 14 video recorded). The latter involved both interview
and walkthroughs via computers with online service access.
Following the MSD method, these interviews and walk-
Application of MSD to Redesigning a Banking
throughs covered different levels of customer experience: value
Service constellation experience within which loans are embedded,
The Portuguese bank is a multi-interface service system, loan service experience and service encounter experiences.
which offers Internet, physical branch, and telephone inter- These data were transcribed literally and analyzed following a
faces. Previous research found that customers used a mix qualitative approach. To supplement the qualitative findings, a
of service interfaces in a complementary way (Patrı́cio, Fisk, quantitative study was developed to assess the multi-interface
and Cunha 2003, 2008), but the bank’s interfaces were not aspect of the service experience, following the same research
well integrated. Therefore, the bank decided to adopt an inte- design as the retail service study. The survey questionnaire was
grated approach to designing its multi-interface service sys- developed, pretested with 92 customers and administered to a
tem, starting with two service experiences for two financial sample of 420 multi-interface bank customers.
Patrı´cio 193

Value constellation experience for buying a car

Need Car Car Car Car
Information Car loan
recognition selection purchase registration insurance

Loan service experience

Information Decision Loan Bank Contracting Post

search advice application decision contracting

Information search
service encounter

Login Select loan Analyze

Internet info loan info


Figure 11. Decomposition of customer activities for the different levels of the customer experience for buying a car.

and insuring the car. These results helped understand the con-
text within which the bank loan is used and showed that the
recommendations loan is not an end in itself but instrumental in the car buying
Car information
services process. This analysis pointed out the need for designing the
Registration a car loan service concept to facilitate and speed the loan application
office service Car process, so customers could more easily get what they really
wanted: buying a car.
Car dealer
service Bank car Designing the bank loan service concept through the Customer
Value Constellation (CVC). Designing the loan service concept
started with the development of the existing CVC for buying a
car. This work was based on the study results, the analysis of
existing service offerings, and the work of the multidisciplinary
Bank loan
service concept team. As shown in Figure 12, a network of service offerings sus-
tains the car purchase activity because loans are only one part of
Figure 12. Bank’s loan service concept positioning in the customer the CVC. To enhance its service concept positioning, besides the
value constellation for buying a car. loan the bank developed partnerships with car dealers and insur-
ance companies to facilitate the car purchase. The bank project
Step 2: Designing the Bank Loan Service Concept focused on redesigning the service system and did not involve
Understanding the Value Constellation Experience (VCE) for the redefinition of the service concept. However, this high level
buying a car. For the bank case, the loan application and usage analysis helped understand how the loan service concept was
might be part of many value constellation experiences, such as integrated with the CVC for buying a car, providing guidance for
buying a car, a vacation trip, or solving a personal problem. As designing the service system and service encounter levels.
an example, the value constellation experience for buying a car
is presented. As shown in Figure 11, the qualitative results Step 3: Redesigning the Bank Service System for Loans
enabled mapping the different service activities involved in the Understanding the loan service experience. The loan service
value constellation experience, such as searching for informa- experience was defined as being cocreated through all the ser-
tion, selecting the car, getting a loan, purchasing, registering, vice encounters between the customer and the bank for
194 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

the Internet or at the branch or they can telephone to ask that

Online service application forms be mailed. With the SSA and SSN, the bank
efficiency service system was redesigned to enhance the multi-interface
loan service experience and better support the contribution of
Online service the loan service concept positioning in the CVC.

Store personal
Step 4: Designing Each Service Encounter Experience for
Bank Loans
Understanding the loan service encounter experience. The ser-
8,24 vice encounter experience was defined as being cocreated
through each moment of contact between the customer and the
0 2 4 6 8 10 bank through a specific service interface, such as gathering
loan information on the online banking service. The customer
Figure 13. Assessment of multi-interface experience factors—bank experience study, especially the walkthroughs, pointed out
service (construct means of summated scales 0–10). problems specifically related to implementing the new service
system and the different service encounter experiences. For
applying for and using the bank loan. The qualitative study example, the studies revealed that customers did not know that
allowed for the decomposition of the loan experience into ser- it was possible to follow up an Internet inquiry with telephone
vice tasks (as shown in Figure 11) and the identification of ser- or bank branch advice. Moreover, even if they knew, the Inter-
vice experience factors, such as multi-interface integration. For net interface did not provide any clue on how to do it. This
example, the bank’s Internet service offering for loans mainly understanding provided insights into designing service inter-
covered general information. Customers were forced to visit face links between these touchpoints.
the physical branch for advice, to provide documentation, and
to sign the loan contract. These breakdowns in the loan experi- Designing the loan service encounters. After designing the ser-
ence led most customers to go directly to the physical branch, vice system, the design drilled down to each service encounter as
where they had access to a complete service offering for their depicted in each cell of the SSA and SSN, using the SEB dia-
needs in spite of the inconvenience. As shown in Figure 13, the gram. Figure 16 shows the SEB for the loan information service
quantitative study corroborated the qualitative results. Multi- encounter in Internet banking. Building upon the understanding
interface integration was a low performing factor, which of the service encounter experience, this online service encoun-
indicated this area needed improvement. ter was redesigned to offer the information requested but also to
explicitly show two options for obtaining personal advice: sche-
duling a meeting at the physical branch or telephone advice.
Designing the service system for bank loans. Building upon the If the customer selects one of the advice options, the back-
previous steps, the bank service system was redesigned through end system retrieves additional customer information, selects
the SSA and SSN. The analysis of the existing SSA revealed the appropriate advisor in the physical branch or the call center,
two important breakdowns in the loan service experience for and sends a trigger with the meeting request to a selected
customers who started using the Internet: (a) they could not employee. Then the employee can call the customer with much
undertake all the loan service tasks in this interface because better preparation for providing good personal contact service.
it did not offer personal advice and (b) they could not complete With the SEB and the multilevel MSD approach, the bank
the contract online. To improve the loan experience, the SSA found ways to improve the service encounter experience for the
was changed to offer more channel options for advice and loan information touchpoint in the Internet, while also enhancing the
applications. In this case, telephone advice was added and tele- service experience across the multi-interface service system.
phone and online loan applications were designed so that cus-
tomers could complete these pre-contractual service tasks
without having to visit the physical branch. These new options MSD Contributions to Service Design
are depicted in Figure 14 in white ovals. The MSD method enables integrated design of the service offer-
The loan service experience was also enhanced through ing at its different levels, contributing to the design of complex
changes in the SSN, by linking the different touchpoints. In this service systems. Its multilevel approach also provides a holistic
case, the bank decided that no advice would be offered on the view, highlighting new levels of the customer experience.
Internet; but the service experience was enhanced by smoothly Finally, MSD synthesizes the contributions of different fields
guiding the customer from the Internet to advice on the tele- into an interdisciplinary service design method.
phone or at the physical branch (see Figure 15). In this new SSN,
customers can now gather information from the Internet service,
but when advice is needed, the service navigation is designed so
Contribution to Designing Complex Service Systems
customers can call for telephone advice or schedule a meeting at The MSD method contributes a holistic set of interrelated mod-
the branch. After the advice stage, they can apply for a loan on els and concepts that integrate the different levels of service
Patrı´cio 195

Loan service experience

Decision Bank Post

Information Application Contracting
advice decision contracting

Service Interfaces Customer



Physical store

Internal support

Backend system

Figure 14. Service system architecture for bank loans.

Information Decision advice Loan application


Ask for Ask for advice Apply for loan



Show information Online application

and advice options
Internet interface
Service Interfaces

Telephone advice Send application

by mail

Telephone Interface

Advice at Register application

Physical store Physical branch at physical branch

Retrieve Send advice Register


information request application

Backend system

Figure 15. Service system navigation for bank loans (partial view).

system design down through the different levels of the cus- design the firm service concept. The MSD method extends
tomer experience. At the highest level, the MSD method adapts Lovelock’s service concept (1994), recognizing that the service
the value constellation model (Normann and Ramı́rez 1993) to offering can be created in collaboration with other partners in
196 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

[no schedule]
[telephone Select
advice] telephone
F advice
[schedule meeng]
Login to Select loan Choose schedule
service info advice opon meeng

Line of interaction

Retrieve Present loan Send Inform customer

Send login Present
Loan info Info and advice meeng he/she will be
informaon Service opons opons request contacted
Line of visibility


Validate Send loan Retrieve Select Send schedule

Login info addional appropriate request with
info customer info advisor customer info

Backend system

Acon W Waing point Beginning of

interface link
Customer End of
F Fail point
decision process

Figure 16. Service experience blueprint for Internet banking loan information.

the CVC. The MSD method opens the design space for new influence the service encounter experience and contribute to
forms of service innovation that go beyond the boundaries of the service experience as a whole. MSD builds upon the inter-
the existing service offering. This systems thinking approach disciplinary and multi-interface SEB method, integrating SEB
to the service concept contributes to a stronger focus on rela- with SSA and SSN at the service system design level, and the
tionships, networks, and value creation (Lusch, Vargo, and CVC at the service concept level. The MSD method offers a
Tanniru 2009). holistic systems thinking perspective on service design,
At the middle level, the MSD method designs the firm ser- enabling design teams to understand how high-level system
vice system through the development of the SSA and SSN decisions trace to low-level service interactions, enabling the
models. These models help visualize how the service system development of an integrated solution to enhance the customer
elements (customer, service interfaces, backstage components, experience at its different levels.
and IT systems) are integrated to cocreate value throughout the
different service encounters of the service experience. The SSA Contribution to Designing for the Customer Experience
offers a structure view, allowing for better management of the The MSD contributes a multilevel understanding of customer
interface mix to enhance the service experience while better experience. At the higher level, MSD presents the new concept
allocating resources among channels. The SSN offers a of value constellation experience, recognizing that experiences
dynamic view, recognizing there are many possible journeys may be formed through interactions with multiple services
that customers may follow. By analyzing the different naviga- from multiple organizations that go beyond the firm’s offer-
tion paths and designing the service interface links, MSD ings. This perspective helps contextualize the firm’s service
allows the modularity and flexibility needed to design the concept into the larger context of the value constellation expe-
service system for customers to cocreate their service experi- rience and opens new forms of service innovation. This new
ences in unique ways. The MSD method at the service system concept also opens new ground for experience research, as cus-
level, therefore, addresses the new challenges of multichannel tomer experience has not yet been studied beyond the firm’s
service design. boundaries. The service experience concept adopted in MSD
At the service encounter level, the MSD method uses the provides a comprehensive view of customer experience at the
SEB model (Patrı́cio, Fisk, and Cunha 2008) for a detailed firm level, taking into account the different service encounters
design of the concrete interaction between the customer and across multiple service interfaces. The MSD method, therefore,
a specific service interface. At this level, MSD enables the responds to the call for more holistic approaches to customer
analysis of how different elements of the service encounter experience research (Verhoef et al. 2008). At the service
Patrı´cio 197

encounter subsystem level, even though the analysis of the cus- constellation experience components and drivers. Additionally,
tomer interaction experience has been studied in interaction further empirical studies besides banking and retailing can bring
design and service research, the MSD method better contextua- important insights.
lizes this level of customer experience with the other experi- The MSD method designs the service offering for the differ-
ence levels. The MSD method helps designers understand ent levels of the customer experience, taking into account the
how the different levels of customer experience are interrelated different interactions with multiple firms for a given overall
and can contribute to service design. activity, such as buying a car. However, the MSD method
concentrates on the customer-firm interaction. The growth
Contribution to the Development of Interdisciplinary of social networking has raised the importance of customer-
to-customer interactions, so research is needed to understand
Service Design Methods how greater customer-to-customer interaction may change
Service design requires interdisciplinary efforts to develop value cocreation and which methods are needed to design
complex service systems. The MSD method offers an integra- services in this new context.
tive blend of concepts and models from service management MSD is a comprehensive method for designing service offer-
(Service Concept, Value Constellation, Service Encounters, and ings at different levels, but it designs one service at a time.
Service Blueprinting), interaction design (Usage-Centered Although some firms may be focused on one service offering,
Design and Human Activity Modeling), software engineering such as retailing, other service firms may offer complex bundles
(Activity Diagrams), and service design (touchpoints and of services, such as banking. In such cases, firms must simultane-
customer journey). MSD creates a design method, a design lan- ously position themselves into different CVCs and build an inte-
guage, and design tools that different members of multidisci- grated multiservice system that provides their different offerings.
plinary teams can use to communicate and explore new ideas Further research is needed to understand how the different SSAs
in the development process. Moreover, by explicitly addressing form the overall service enterprise architecture as a whole.
the role of technology and information systems in services, the MSD takes service design to a higher level by positioning
MSD method systematizes customer and business requirements the firm’s service concept in the CVC. However, a network
into a technical language that interaction designers and software of service providers can offer even more complex services,
engineers can use to develop the technology systems that pro- such as cities. New methods should be developed for designing
vide crucial service systems support. MSD represents a signifi- the overall value constellation at this system of service systems
cant departure from existing design methods. The MSD method level. Customers are also involved in many value constellations
takes a more interactive and holistic perspective on designing throughout the many activities of their lives. Together these
service systems, which contributes to developing an interdi- CVCs form a service ecosystem. As concern for service sus-
sciplinary service design field. tainability increases, it is important to incorporate these issues
in service design. Although some research has been done on
service design for sustainability (Manzini 2009), further work
Conclusion and Future Work is needed to develop methods and tools that incorporate sustain-
The MSD method offers a systemic view of service design lev- ability issues throughout the different levels of service design.
els and a flexible approach that accommodates the cocreative Finally, the MSD method brings breadth and depth to design-
nature of customer experiences. Building upon concepts and ing complex service systems. The integration of interdisciplin-
techniques from different fields, MSD extends the conceptual ary contributions provides a robust design method that can be
service frameworks and operationalizes them into a unified ser- communicated across disciplines. MSD provides an in-depth
vice system design method. Applications of the MSD method approach through the three levels of customer experience and
to retailing and banking demonstrate that it can be effectively service design. We hope MSD stimulates further interdisciplin-
applied in different service innovation contexts, which opens ary design research and fosters new service innovations.
new insights into developing new services.
The MSD method raises questions that deserve further Authors’ Note
research. Three levels of customer experience design are The authors thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their
addressed by the MSD method. However, since interaction many insightful comments during the revision process.
design and service research have traditionally focused specifi-
cally on the service encounter experience at just one service Declaration of Conflicting Interests
interface, these new customer experience levels need further The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
exploration. Extant research has developed conceptual frame- the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
works for a holistic view of the service experience at the firm level
(Verhoef et al. 2008). The MSD applications provide insights into Funding
its drivers, but a more holistic view of the service experience still The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
needs empirical study. At a higher level, the MSD method iden- the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article:
tifies the value constellation experience concept, but further work This research project was partially supported by AdI—Agência de
is needed to develop a richer conceptualization of value Inovação—IDEIA Program (Grant number 13 05 04 FDR 00022).
198 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

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Normann, Richard (2001), Reframing Business: When the Map Lia Patrı́cio is an assistant professor of the Department of Indus-
Changes the Landscape. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons. trial Engineering and Management at the University of Porto.
200 Journal of Service Research 14(2)

Previously, she worked in the banking industry. She holds a PhD João Falcão e Cunha is a lecturer and researcher at the School of Engi-
in Industrial Management and Engineering, an MBA, and a neering of the University of Porto. He holds a PhD in Computing Sci-
degree in Economics from the University of Porto. She has pub- ence from Imperial College (1989), a MSc in Operations Research
lished in the Journal of Service Research, Requirements Engi- from Cranfield University (1984), and a first degree in Electrical Engi-
neering Journal, and others. Her current research focuses on neering from University of Porto (1983). His research interests include
new interdisciplinary methods for service system design, service decision support systems, graphical user interfaces, object-oriented mod-
experience design, service design for sustainability, and social eling, and service engineering and management. He coordinates the
networks. Industrial Engineering and Management and the Service Engineering
and Management master programs and is the Academic Director of the
Raymond P. Fisk (BS, MBA, and PhD from Arizona State Univer- IBM Center for Advanced Studies in Portugal.
sity) is a professor and chair of the Department of Marketing at Texas
State University–San Marcos. He has published in the Journal of Mar- Larry Constantine, IDSA, is a professor at the University of Madeira
keting, Journal of Retailing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sci- and Institute Fellow at the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
ence, Journal of Service Research, European Journal of Marketing, where he teaches in the dual-degree programs operated jointly with
Service Industries Journal, International Journal of Service Industry Carnegie-Mellon University. A pioneer of modern software engineer-
Management, Journal of Health Care Marketing, Journal of Market- ing theory and practice, he is an award-winning interaction designer
ing Education, and others. His books include Interactive Services specializing in enhancing user performance in safety-critical
Marketing, 3rd ed., Services Marketing Self-Portraits: Introspections, applications as well as an award-winning author with 20 books and
Reflections and Glimpses from the Experts, Marketing Theory: Distin- more than 200 papers published. He is the recipient of the 2009
guished Contributions, and Services Marketing: An Annotated Stevens Award for his contributions to design and design methods and
Bibliography. a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.