Purpose: This paper aims to develop and apply a service design method that allows for stronger recognition and integration of human activities into the front-end stages of the service design process. Design/methodology/approach: Following a discussion of different service design perspectives and activity theory, the paper develops a method called activity-set mapping (ActS). ActS is applied to an exploratory service design project to demonstrate its use. Findings: Three broad perspectives on service design are suggested: (1) the dyadic interaction, (2) the systemic interaction and (3) the customer activity perspectives. The ActS method draws on the latter perspective and focuses on the study of human activity sets. The application of ActS shows that the method can help identify and visualize sets of activities. Research limitations/implications: The ActS method opens new avenues for service design by zooming in on the micro level and capturing the set of activities linked to a desired goal achievement. However, the method is limited to activities reported by research participants and may exclude unconscious activities. Further research is needed to validate and refine the method. Practical implications: The ActS method will help service designers explore activities in which humans engage to achieve a desired goal/end state. Originality/value: The concept of “human activity set” is new to service research and opens analytical opportunities for service design. The ActS method contributes a visualization tool for identifying activity sets and uncovering the benefits, sacrifices and frequency of activities.