I had cause to go to the doctors the other day, the outcome was we agreed to have some blood tests. Before I go on, I’d like to just emphasize that I actually love my Doctors’ surgery. The doctors and nurses are all fab, and it’s right next door to my office! You’ll also see that this story is no horror story, it’s a pretty good experience. However, I want to just pull it apart and question it to see if they have properly iterated their processes to:

  1. Be the most efficient they can be
  2. Have considered the customer (me) in the process

So this is how it panned out. I called Monday morning at 8am to get an appointment. Sadly, unless you can book online (which I’ve now registered for), you have to go through this rigmarole to get an appointment. You have to keep trying until you eventually get through. Then wait on hold, then hopefully there’s an appointment free. I eventually got an appointment for 11am. I saw the doctor, who quickly agreed to the tests. I then saw the receptionist to arrange an appointment with the nurse.

I returned on Wednesday to see the nurse. I was quickly seen and dispatched and told I could ring in for my results on Monday. I called Monday morning to hear “if you’re calling about test results please call back after 11”. I called and my tests were all clear, job done, and all not too painful (apart from the prick in the arm!). But if we really asked the above 2 questions, what other conclusions could we have come to? I’ll caveat that by saying these are my conclusions based on face value as a customer and as a Venture Coach. They have not been tested with the either surgery or its other customers and there may be reasons I am not aware as to why it is so.

The booking process

Was it the most efficient it could be? Probably not. I assume over-demand for appointments is the reason, and this is “fixed” by making it harder to get one. This means phone lines are all jammed at the beginning of the day, meaning no other calls can really get through, receptionists are glued to the phone for that period meaning they cannot do any other work. I suspect there are some fairly easy fixes to improve this. As a Venture coach, I would work with the client to understand what the likely solutions could be, then test these hypotheses with clients to see which was the best, before implementing a change.

Did it consider the customer? Certainly not! It was painful. Imagine getting that experience when you want to book in your phone for repair at Apple or arrange a delivery from Amazon. You just wouldn’t. I tolerated the experience because I had too. Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon, famously always sat an empty chair at the table of every meeting. That chair was there to represent the customer, this helped keep the customer at the forefront of every business decision. 

The Appointments

Was it the most efficient it could be? Probably not. As the tests were done by a nurse on another day, I had two appointments, not one. The tests themselves took a few seconds, so could have easily been done by the doctor on the first day. I know what you are thinking, the nurse is paid less so it must be more efficient, as in cheaper, but let’s consider the whole transaction cost. Doctor allocates one appointment to me. Two interactions with the reception to book appointments, taking up their time twice, plus having to call them back for results. A specific appointment with the nurse.  Let’s assume simplistically doctors cost £10, £5 for the nurse and £2.50 for receptionist per interaction. My total bill is, therefore, £10 + £5 + £2.50 + £2.50 + £2.50= £20. My version costs just £10 + £2.5 = £12.50.

Did it consider the customer? To some extent! I got what I required, but it took 7 days from start to finish when it could have taken 4, and I had to visit twice.

The Results

Was it the most efficient it could be? Probably not. I assume the doctor will have had to review the results, write up a note for the receptionist on the system then I had to call that receptionist to be told it’s OK. If the doctor’s note was linked directly to the email (or Text message) system, I could have been sent the details as soon as they were reviewed. What’s more, had there been as issue with them, a link to book an appointment could have been in the same email.

Did it consider the customer? To some extent again! The email or text would have been instant and on my terms, meaning I could deal with it when I chose. I wasn’t too worried about these results, but if I were, all of the above delays would have added to my anxiety.

Lean Start-up and s

In Conclusion

At Bite the Cherry, we coach our clients using lean start-up methodology and always with the customer in mind. That’s why at the start of the journey we look to help you find the best Minimum Viable Product, and throughout the process, be as lean as possible to best exploit the opportunities ahead.

Check out this video from the inventor of lean start-up Steve Blank all about the discovery process:

Why not spend a bit of time asking yourself the two questions about your products and  processes:

  1. Are the most efficient they can be?
  2. Have you considered the customer in the process / product?

Once you have reviewed this, spend some time pulling apart your findings, seeking out better solutions and then testing them to see if they add value.

If you would like a free scoping session to see if Bite the Cherry can help with your venture, please do get in touch.

Ian Hacon

Founder of Yellow Brick Road & Co-founder of Bite the Cherry