Service Innovation for Gilson Snow

Analyzing and interpreting the current state to design an informed service innovation that fits into the Gilson Snow product service system

A 1.5-month project completed in the Service Design class as a part of my master's at Carnegie Mellon University. We worked with Gilson Snow to explore and design a new service innovation. User research and models of the current state led our team to a co-created review and product birthday service.

Gilson Snow

Harshil Rastogi
Justine Cho
Sabrina Lyu

My Role
Service Designer
UX Designer
Team Lead

March - April 2020


How might we equip customers with the confidence to purchase a Gilson board online, while also bringing them into the Gilson community to make future purchases?

According to Gilson, “87% of people that add products to carts do not buy them.” Snowboarders seek advice through reviews and forums prior to making a purchase. Currently, Gilson primarily sells their snowboards online but they don’t share reviews on their website.

Additionally, many snowboarders express the need to ride the board multiple times before they have a strong feel for the board. Asking a customer for a review prior to riding the board might lead to less reliable reviews. But, how can you bring the customer back into the fold many months after the purchase is fresh in their mind?


The Gilson Review Model is a service innovation that meets the needs of snowboarders while also providing Gilson a way to give customers the confidence they need to finalize their purchase. Gilson and their customers co-create reviews to be displayed on Gilson’s product pages for the benefit of new customers. Gilson provides the framework to leave a review; Customers provide their honest feedback.

Customers are asked for their review exactly one year after purchase to ensure they have had a chance to get to know their board first. To bring customers back for a review and make them feel a part of the GIlson community, the request for review is sent along with a birthday celebration for their board. Once a review is completed, customers are given a look back at their year with their Gilson board. Year after year, their birthday review is more meaningful, Gilson gets an increasingly in-depth look at their customer base, and by the third year the customer might just think to buy Gilson again.

Skip to solution

Analyzing the CURRENT STATE

In order to find a leverage point where a service innovation might be most impactful, we dove into the current Gilson product ecosystem and mapped their business processes to a service blueprint. After capturing the current state, we identified opportunity for value flow. We found the greatest potential for value to flow from the post-purchase steps in the journey back to the shopping process.


After mapping out the service blueprint we had many ideas for service innovations. Once we talked to snowboarders, however, we came to understand what they actually need when searching for a new snowboard.

We conducted 6 semi-structured interviews with snowboarders of varying skill levels with the goal to understand their experience snowboarding and purchasing new gear. After synthesizing these interviews with an affinity diagramming session, we created two overarching personas to guide our further ideation.

Affinity diagram of research for Gilson Snow project


Research Insights Shift Our Thinking

Insight 1

Some snowboarders prefer not to demo snowboards because that is time spent getting used to a new board when they could be having fun snowboarding instead.

Insight 2

Many snowboarders seek advice and reviews when looking to purchase a new board because it is a large monetary investment that takes careful consideration.

Insight 3

Snowboarding is a highly social sport. For this reason, many snowboarders look to friends and other experienced snowboarders for advice on gear.


Sketching rapidly to generate many ideas

Narrowing Our Many Ideas

We came out of ideating with several service innovations we were excited about pursuing. To narrow our ideas down to a single one, we utilized an Impact Effort Matrix to assess which ideas would have the most impact with the least amount of effort. After reviewing the matrix along with our research, we determined the ideas that had the highest potential (labeled below with a dark blue circle).

Matrix with Effort on the Y-axis and Impact on the X-axis
  1. Snowboard speed dating
  2. Video review on product page*
  3. Share build process with customers
  4. Used board return and sales
  5. Buzzfeed style quiz to pick a board
  6. Store referral program
  7. Snowboarding Games
  8. Hackathon for sourcing board designs*
  9. Review Model*
  10. Shopping for beginners*

Storyboard Testing

Final Concept

By mapping out potential value flow, mapping our ideas to an effort impact matrix, and referencing our synthesized research and personas, we narrowed on the idea to create a review framework for Gilson. This review framework would provide Gilson and their customers the opportunity to co-create value for new customers.

From our research, we knew that it takes time for a snowboarder to get used to the feeling of their new board. For that reason, we wanted to time the review for at least one season after purchase. We were initially unsure how to request the review without it feeling out of place to a customer who had made the purchase many months prior. After additional brainstorming, we decided to loop customers back in with a happy birthday message exactly one year following their purchase. Additionally, we encouraged customers by offering a look back at their year with their Gilson.

Reimagining the Service Blueprint

We created a future state service blueprint to demonstrate the potential of this service innovation. Explore what the simplified Gilson service blueprint might look like after the introduction of our service innovation.

Simplified version of the Gilson Snow service blueprint after the service innovation has been introduced to their business model

To bring the service innovation to life, we prototyped the four main customer touch points:

Gilson Board Birthday Gift

Experience the Prototype

As a reward for reviewing their snowboard, the customer receives a personalized year in review. This serves to incentivize reviews, remind customers of their time with their Gilson board, and re-engage customers year over year for subsequent board birthdays.

Show Value

Happy birthday website landing page showing an animated snowboarder being carried away by balloons

Email communication

Following a year of owning their Gilson board, customers are sent an email celebrating the year and requesting their feedback to help future customers.

Show Value

First email communication requesting the customer to leave a review

Snowboard Review Form

View Mockup

From our interviews with snowboarders and discussions with Gilson, we identified what we felt were important questions to ask in the review form. We wanted to include questions that would provide Gilson with rich data about their customers and Gilson community as a whole. The questions were carefully curated to provide value to Gilson and benefit new customers who seek specific information when looking at reviews.

Show Value

Top of review page displaying navigation bar and a graphic of a snowboarder in the mountainsBottom of review page prototype displaying submit button

Reviews on the Product Page

View Mockup

The reviews shown are aggregated to give a glimpse of the overall opinion of the product. We also discovered, however, that what a snowboarder looks for in a review can depend heavily on their background and prior experience purchasing. To appeal to the breadth of experience levels, there is a range of information included within individual reviews.

Show Value

Product page for snowboard displaying review rating and product details on the rightReview section of the product page displaying aggregate reviews and individual reviews of the snowboard

Designed by Sabrina Lyu


After sharing our service innovation concept with the Gilson Snow team, we received very positive reactions and are looking forward to how this could potentially improve their product service system!

We're now moving into redesign mode and this information and these suggestions are so valuable.  Thank you for all your work on this front.  I am confident that this work will prove to be indispensable to our next objectives.

Nick Gilson, CEO of Gilson Snow
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