This list represents a summary of the past forty years of service design literature. The citations were compiled from the Emergence conference at Carnegie Mellon University as well as the Designing for Services project in the UK, service design syllabi at CMU and independent research. I've included the abstracts and introductions to the papers and cross-referenced examples and concepts so that it's easy to follow the development of ideas such as "service blueprinting" across multiple papers.

Select any underlined term to filter the list, showing only papers that share that particular concept, example, author, journal or decade. If you'd like to help fill in the gaps by suggesting other canonical papers, e-mail the citations to service at Thanks!

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Breaking Free from Product Marketing
Journal of Marketing, 1977
Lynn Shostack
From the article: "It is dangerous to take the marketing concepts that apply to products, and try to transfer them to services. Products are tangible; services are not-and that makes a lot of difference in how you market them."

Examples: Airline Travel, Automobile Transportation, Citibank, McDonalds

Compare with:
Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work
How to Design a Service
European Journal of Marketing, 1982
Lynn Shostack
From the article: "Suggests that behavioural hypothesis, which rearranges or alters any element, by design or accident, will change the overall entity, just like changing bonds or atoms in a molecule creates a new substance, and this is known as molecular modelling — and this can help the marketer to better understand any market entity. States that the first step towards rational service design is a system for visualizing this phenomenon, enabling services to be given proper position and weight in the market entity context. Proposes that people are essential evidence of a service and how they are dressed or act has a bearing on this. Identifies benefits, standards and tolerances, and discusses modifications using tables and figures for emphasis. Concludes that modelling and blueprinting offer a system for marketers which can lead to the kind of experimentation and management necessary to service innovation and development."

Examples: Amusement Park, Fast Food Chain, Automobile Transportation, Airline Travel, Dry Cleaners, Tax Return Preparation, McDonalds, Corner Shoeshine

Compare with:
Designing product/service systems: A methodological exploration
Service Blueprinting: A Practical Tool for Service Innovation
Blueprinting the Service Company: Managing the Service Processes Efficiently
Designing Services that Deliver
Harvard Business Review, 1984
Lynn Shostack
From the article: "The service sector contributes substantially to the US gross national product, however, little effort has been directed toward applying the rational management techniques so common in the goods-producing sector to the design and operation of services. It has been assumed that good service is a function of the particular style of an entrepreneur or business and that it cannot be quantitatively analyzed. A method is presented to turn the trial-and-error process of service design into a rational, systematic process. In designing a service, the processes constituting the service must be identified, areas of potential service breakdown isolated, the amount of time required for service delivery determined, and a standard of service delivery time must be established to ensure profitability. Alternative methods of delivery should be examined, and means of highlighting tangible evidence of the service for consumers should be identified. The service should make customers feel special, requiring hiring, training, and performance standards which stress courtesy and credibility."

Examples: H&R Block, McDonalds, Walt Disney, Corner Shoeshine, Discount Brokerage

Five Imperatives for Improving Service Quality
Sloan Management Review, 1990
Leonard Berry
From the article: "It is time for U.S. companies to raise their service aspirations significantly and for U.S. executives to declare war on mediocre service and set their sights on consistently excellent service, say the authors. This goal is within reach if managers will provide the necessary leadership, remember that the sole judge of service quality is the customer, and implement what the authors call the "five service imperatives."

Examples: Deluxe Corporation, Southwest Airlines, Sewell Village Cadillac, Palais Royal Apparel, Nordstroms, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Century 21, Walt Disney World, Friendly Bank, PHH FleetAmerica, Aid Association for Lutherans, Preston Trucking Company, Books and Co., Florida Power & Light, British Airways, Wachovia Bank & Trust, First Bank System, American Express

Compare with:
SERVQUAL: A Multiple-Item Scale for Measuring Consumer Perceptions of Service Quality
Clueing in Customers
The Profitable Art of Service Recovery
Harvard Business Review, 1990
Christopher Hart
From the article: "Mistakes are a critical part of every service. Hard as they try, even the best service companies can't prevent the occasional late flight, burned steak, or missed delivery. The fact is, in services, often performed in the customer's presence, errors are inevitable. But dissatisfied customers are not. While companies may not be able to prevent all problems, they can learn to recover from them. A good recovery can turn angry, frustrated customers into loyal ones. It can, in fact create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place."

Examples: Club Med, Maine Savings Bank, Marriott Hotel, British Airways, Domino's Pizza, Stew Leonards, US Air, DFW Airport, Sheraton Hotel, Smith & Hawken, First Union National Bank, US Secret Service, Sonesta Hotel, Montgomery Ward, McDonald's, Federal Express

Relational Services
Knowledge, Technology and Policy, 2008
Carla Cipolla
From the article: "Recent research projects have looked for social innovations, i.e., people creating solutions outside the mainstream patterns of production and consumption. An analysis of these innovations indicates the emergence of a particular kind of service configuration—defined here as relational services—which requires intensive interpersonal relations to operate. Based on a comparative analysis between standard and relational services, we propose to the Service Design discipline an interpretative framework able to reinforce its ability to deal with the interpersonal relational qualities in services, indicating how these qualities can be understood and favored by design activities, as well as the limits of this design intervention. Martin Buber's conceptual framework is presented as the main interpretative basis. Buber describes two ways of interacting ("I-Thou" and "I-It"). Relational services are those most favoring "I-Thou" interpersonal encounters. "

Examples: Living Room Restaurant, Walking Bus, School Bus, McDonalds