Service Touchpoint Cards

The AT-ONE project at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design produced a set of service touchpoint cards for the Nordic Service Design conference last month. I was curious about the cards and they were kind enough to send a pack to review.

It consists of a set of 52 cards representing various touchpoints that might be found in a typical service. Five of the cards suggest card-sorting exercises designed to help organizations think more about how they present themselves to the public.

  1. Forced association – Pick two cards and create a service for your project based upon just these touchpoints.
  2. Mapping touchpoints – For each step of the service journey, choose the touchpoint cards from the pack that the customer will encounter and map the journey.
  3. Touchpoint take away – Identify the two most important touchpoints at each step of the customer journey and replace them with alternatives.
  4. Can I use it here? – For each step of the service journey, go through the cards and envision how the touchpoint could create value at this particular step.
  5. Whose touch point is it anyway? – Sort through the cards in terms of who is responsible for each touchpoint within your organization. Do they work together?

Initially the scope of the cards seemed a little overwhelming so I mentally grouped the touchpoints into five categories: Media, Graphics, Servicescapes, Communications and Ephemera.

The first category refers to media outlets such as TV, radio or newspapers along with newer channels such weblogs and viral messaging. Next is graphical output such as business cards, brochures, signage and packaging. Servicescapes contain the environmental and face-to-face aspects of a service such as wayfinding, queues and actual employees. The communications category contains cards for e-mail and various kinds of telephones as well as traditional channels such as letters or word of mouth. Finally, I created an ephemera category for things like receipts, bills, contracts, instructions, credit cards and all the bits of business that hold a service together.

The pack contains two blank cards for creating new touchpoints and three specific cards for “service as a product,” referencing hybrids like the Amazon Kindle, Nike Plus and Nabaztag.

One card didn’t make sense to me. It simply contained the word “myths” and a photograph of a book entitled Myths and Legends. I’ve never come across this particular theme in regard to touchpoints. Any help?

I think that these cards are a good tool for brainstorming, but they’re an excellent tool for explaining the concept of service design to potential clients. I’d like to see the set fleshed out a bit with categories or other ways to “chunk” the cards and maybe some insight or best practices for particular touchpoints on the backs of the cards themselves.

Finally it’d be nice to see this kind of approach expanded to deal with aspects of service design beyond touchpoints. For instance, the communication mechanisms that filter information throughout the enterprise and the management systems that organize and train employees in the service culture: the backstage linkware and orgware to complement the touchpoints.

The danger is that by omission these tools reinforce the notion that only the front stage elements of a service need to be designed. Service design is about more than touchpoints.

Still, this is a good place to start and it’s always nice to add a new resource to our arsenal. I’d like to see more organizations take a crack at this type of thing.

  1. I haven’t seen or used the cards so it’s a little hard to judge but I’d reckon that it’s a plus that the cards are limited to just touchpoints. When a tool is really focussed it’s easier to define when you want to use it and what for. More ambiguous tools tend to require more experience and expertise to use.

  2. I like the idea you suggest Jeff of using it as a means to explain to Clients how Touchpoint mapping can work. You can see it in a lego wheel which can be a bit daunting or by asking clients in a meeting how they have arranged their interactions using these cards could show them that more thought might yield greater value. thanks for sharing.

  3. Randall Blair

    Jeff, thanks for your posts! They have truly been a portal to another important aspect of my education. I really appreciate it.

    I wonder if you had any thought on how these touchpoint cards could be used in conjunction with something like the Method Deck produced by Engine and the Service Innovation Lab for Kent (

  4. Jeff

    Hi Randall, I’m not as familiar with the SILK method cards but I’d say that integrating with the “user journey mapping” and “touchpoint mapping” exercises would be a good starting point. They also might make sense with the “desktop walkthrough” exercise.

    Marc, to your point you may be right about focusing the toolset. It might make sense to devise parallel card sets for other aspects of service design rather than expanding the touchpoint pack. For instance, a pack of cards representing linkware and another representing orgware. For that matter, break out the stageware into their own pack.

    Damian, by “lego wheel” are you referring to this?

  5. yep that’s the one, i should have referenced it you!

  6. Qin

    Hi Jeff,

    mission accomplished 🙂 thank you for the inspiration for it in the first place!!!


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