Exemplars play an important role in applied service design but are largely overlooked in academic literature. So far; most design research in other fields has concerned how surface properties of exemplars are incorporated in the current design; but services are different from most other design disciplines in regard to material. To expand the understanding of how exemplars matter to service design; material from recordings and observations of design meetings have been analysed. We observed a pattern that exemplars; in this case; were introduced in communication in the format of micro-narratives that express emotional impact of service elements. This study shows that exemplars in the form of micro-narratives are retrieved in design discourse primarily from gathered data; common reference points; and personal experiences. They contribute to the collective understanding of the service concept and support the alignment of the service offering with customer expectations.