Within any service there are critically important ‘key service moments’ (for both the service user and provider) that result in significant problems if they are broken in some way.
I recently worked on a project investigating why the physical health check service for people with severe mental illness was underperforming.
This is a really complex service that consists of many individual touch points, interactions and activities on the part of the service user and provider and what became clear was that some were much more important than others.
One example of a key service moment was when patients had a doctors appointments.
Appointments made people feel really anxious.
Will I be feeling well enough to attend?
What if I bump into someone I know in the surgery and have to explain why I’m there?
How will I get to the appointment?
What if I get that unsympathetic doctor again?
What if I have to discuss my recent breakdown?
The experience that service users had at these key moments had a huge impact on their experience of it as a whole.
Their anxieties around them often resulted in them not attending appointment which had a huge impact upon the medical professionals ability to deliver a successful physical health check service.
It became very clear that in order to design a successful service you have to ensure that these moments work really well.
I recently bought a second hand car.
This process was unbelievably complicated and had a few key moments that stick in my mind.
Trying to negotiate a good price for something I know very little about was really difficult and not at all enjoyable. Sorting out the money for it was tricky and something I haven’t done before.
There were also ‘key moments’ from the perspective of the dealer too. It became clear that it was really important for them to sell me add on products such as gap insurance, alloy wheel protection, paint protection, service plans etc in order to maximise their revenue.
In this instance my ‘key moments’ and theirs did not match but in some services this might be the case, presenting an obvious sweet spot to optimise, resulting in benefits for everyone.
When designing services it’s critical to identify and focus on optimising these ‘key moments’.
By focussing on them you benefit from ‘gearing’ in terms of the impact from optimising these things over others.
There are always too many problems to address at once so this approach also gives you a pragmatic method to prioritise where you spend your time and money in order to maximise your returns.