Service design and experience mapping: covering all service lifecycle phases equally?

Service design and experience mapping: covering all service lifecycle phases equally?

We recently completed an experience mapping exercise as part of a recent project. It was done to help capture the company’s internal knowledge of each product lifecycle stage, understand what the users’ goals were, their activities in each phase as well as aspects like emotion, product value, business opportunity, and others. We used the experience mapping as a stepping stone to do field research with customers and users to validate and more deeply, explore the customer and user experiences to unearth opportunities to innovate the service.

After experience mapping with the team, there was a further conversation. It became very clear there were different views on where the organisation should/would spend their resources to improve the service experience. One point of view was to reach the business goals by providing a better experience to purchase the service. If you don’t do that right, anything that follows doesn’t matter really.

Experience mapping - lifecycle

While this approach sounds logical in itself, it would be oversimplifying the service experience if this is the only thing that matters. One reasoning is that buyers of services can be persistent if the incentive is high enough; either price or desirability of the service will make people jump through more hoops than in other cases where these factors are less prominent or absent altogether.

Another angle was to have a more balanced effort to design the experience of each service lifecycle phase. Where not only the awareness, research and purchase experiences are carefully architected but also the in-use experiences like ‘getting started’, enjoying the service, renewing and changing the service during its lifetime. This way the focus is not only on getting customers inside the service ecosystem, but also deliberate effort is put in to keep them there. What a thought.

What we found was that of the budgets that were allocated to this project, most of the service experience related budget was going towards the pre-purchase lifecycle phases. Far more effort was put in those early phases than in later experience lifecycle phases, to the point that some in-use phases didn’t have a budget at all allocated to them.

Focusing primarily on pre-purchase phases is not uncommon for many companies, the resulting complaints in customer service (which is partly pre-purchase but mostly post-purchase) shows which companies follow a more balanced approach and which use a front loaded experience lifecycle budget allocation.

The above project, and the experience mapping exercise, highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the role of experience thinking in the service lifecycle. Each phase has experiences that will need resources and budget to reach the best experience possible within the business constraints.

Tedde van Gelderen  is President at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit

One Response to Service design and experience mapping: covering all service lifecycle phases equally?

  1. Rebecca says:

    I like the breakdown of phases in the lifecycle. To me it speaks to the clear need to understand any intersection of company and customer at any stage and how those intersections impact the next touch. I expect that eventually it would create a sense of company team instead of each department for themselves – fighting over budget. Excellent post!

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