I was running a training day yesterday for a group of business owners, focussed around how to create systems and automation inside their businesses.

I’m not talking about marketing automation here though, this was much more focussed on automating those never-ending 2-minute tasks that fill up many businesses. These tasks need to be completed, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take up your time or that of your team.

As part of the workshop, I spend time taking examples of the types of processes they would like to create in their businesses and add automation to streamline and well, automate things.

I was struck again by how hard I had to work to keep the attendees focussed on their customer’s experience, and not what they and their team needed to do.

I liken the customer experience for any business to a duck gliding across a lake.

People will come for far and wide to take photos of the lovely scenery around lakes. Eventually there will be a photo of a duck gliding across the lake, seemingly without needing to do any work or expel any effort at all. Meanwhile, under the water, the duck’s legs are kicking like crazy to create the constant forward motion.

It is the same in your business. What your customer experiences is the only reality they are interested in, and it is what you will be judged by.

It is important to focus on their experience when you design your processes, your products and service, your marketing, your entire business.

One of the examples that came up in the workshop was of a training business. They essentially sell IT training courses into businesses.

We looked at their process for what happens once a booking has been made.

Once the sale is made the client receives a confirmation email and an invoice. At the same time they receive an email with a detailed outline of what will happen next, between now and the day of the training.

They will receive a request to confirm the names of all the delegates who will be on the course, in order to send all the required details over to them.

On the day before the course, the client receives an email confirming all the location details and course details again. The delegates receive this information too.

All the delegates also receives a workbook on the day, with access to some further online material to help re-enforce what they’ve learnt.

At the end of the training, the client will receive confirmation that the training is completed, who of the delegates attended and those who missed out. Finally the client receives a thank you email with options to book more delegates onto the course or to book additional courses.

You can see from this description that the focus is entirely on what the client experiences, NOT what the business owner and her team needs to do once a sale is made. That is below the water and should not affect what the customer experience.

In this case, the business owner kept wanting to discuss the fact that they need to send a purchase order, the team needs to order in some more manuals and book in the specific trainer, book the venue for the training etc…

Those are all below the water items. Yes, they all need to happen, but they are not what drives your decisions when designing what the customer experiences.

If you start your process or campaigns, looking inward and working out what your team needs to do in order to complete their side of delivery, you’ll always run the risk of treating the customer experience as an afterthought. You risk the customer feeling like an afterthought.

Looking at the diagram, you can see that there is a clear line between what the customer experiences and what the business needs to do, or what technology is required in order to make all this happen.

If you start with what your customer will experience, you’ll ensure you design the best experience for them and then work out what is required in order to delivery that consistently and predictably, with as much automation as required. Again, don’t sacrifice a great experience for the sake of the tools you use.

Pieter K de Villiers

Author: Pieter K de Villiers

Pieter K de Villiers is slightly obsessed with systems. The systems and process automation he builds for small businesses are transformative, to say the least. Pieter is a Co-Founder of Barefoot Digital and the Amazon best-selling author of “Barefoot Business: 3 key systems to attract more leads, win more sales and delight more customers without your business killing you”.