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The Clientside Podcast

Systems and Processes for your Business with Claire Whittaker

The Clientside Podcast

41 min Claire Whittaker

Claire Whittaker is a business systems and automation coach and the founder Artificially Intelligent Consulting.

Claire's vision is to change the way people are working in a way that prioritises freedom & creativity. Working at Amazon she managed global programs and experienced hustle culture first hand, seeing the impact on her own mental health.

Claire has set out on a mission to help visionary entrepreneurs save 20+ hours a week by implementing processes to finally get their freedom back.

Contact the show by sending an email to hello@theclientside.show.

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Andrew:
Welcome back everyone, and thank you for joining me today. My name is Andrew Armitage and I'm the founder of a digital agency called A Digital, who are the sponsors of this episode of the Clientside podcast. A Digital is an award winning digital agency, putting websites at the centre of digital transformation for companies and organizations who are looking to improve their customer journey and user experience. Now, one of the things I write about in my book, which is called Holistic Website Planning, is the importance of systems and processes and the impact this can have on decisions you make around your website. The book talks about a method I've called Go the Distance, which is a series of eight steps based around the word distance and the second step, The letter I stands for internal process. Your website will be the trigger for lots of processes, especially on the customer facing side of things, but also with the potential to streamline internal processes as well, especially where you're inviting interactions and particularly for ecommerce businesses. So being clear about your customer journey any pinch points where things might have a tendency to go off the rails or take more time is vital if you're to develop and grow your digital channels. If you're planning a new website, then this stage is essential to factor in right from the outset so you can make decisions around which software you might choose to integrate with, or whether existing processes need to change.

Andrew:
So today I'm joined by guests who spent several years working for Amazon in a variety of roles that saw her making website updates from an Excel spreadsheet right through to rolling out AI based customer experience programs across Europe and beyond. Having been privileged to learn a huge amount from Amazon, she saw a way to help businesses and entrepreneurs save time by implementing systems and processes that would support business growth and prioritize freedom and creativity. Having originally qualified as a chemist, her scientific background means she's very data led in her approach, so I'm delighted to introduce Claire Whittaker from artificially intelligent consulting. Welcome to the show, Claire.

Claire:
Thank you so much for having me on. It's a pleasure to be here.

Andrew:
Glad you want to just give our listeners a bit of an introduction to what you do and tell us a bit more about Artificially Intelligent Consulting.

Claire:
Yes, absolutely. So I am a systems and automation consultant, so I work with primarily agencies to help them set up all of their different processes and workflows. So everything from SOPs to make it easier to delegate all the way through to having automated client onboarding processes so that you can really be sure that your clients are never missing anything and you're not having to chase up all of that admin around contracts and invoices. So it's really been full circle, and I just really love helping entrepreneurs and visionaries to be able to have all of this backend stuff automated and in place for themselves so that they can focus on doing the things they love in the business and actually end up saving 20 plus hours a week to get their freedom back.

Andrew:
Yeah, this is. There's nothing worse than feeling you're spending all your time or your productive time when you know, deep down, you're doing the wrong kind of work.

Claire:
Exactly. And it can be so impactful. Like I, I've had a client a while ago who was spending all of her time chasing invoices, but as soon as we automated it out, she was actually able to then spend more of her time on the lead gen and get completely booked out while only working 20 hours a week. It was dreamy.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah, it's a phrase. We've heard a lot, isn't it? But working smarter, not harder. And I think it's it's a case of what does working smarter mean? Because I think there's still a lot of people that like the idea of the phrase but don't necessarily know what it means or more to the point how they can implement it for themselves.

Claire:
Yeah, it is a really interesting one. So a little bit about my background. I worked at Amazon for many, many years and at Amazon they would say, you have to work smart and hard.

Andrew:
Right.

Claire:
So you do both. But I think a lot of it is really and what we were always challenged to do is try and find like, what's the thing that's going to have the biggest impact. So I worked a lot in customer experience and how we can make things look as streamlined for the customer as possible. So what's that one thing that if you can move the needle on it even slightly is going to have the biggest impact because if you try and do everything, you'll end up going nowhere.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. Sure. So do you find the companies that you work with are generally aware of these types of automations and opportunities? Or are they aware of them, but they just don't know where to begin in terms of implementing them? What tends to be the main bottleneck?

Claire:
Yeah, I think people tend to be aware of it, but they don't know where to begin. I mean, as with anything that you see just generally in the world right now, there's information overload everywhere, so there's always new tools coming out around how you can streamline how you can make yourself more productive, like all sorts of like new ways of do things, all sorts of new technologies, all the time. So people, just as I see it, get really overwhelmed with like, where do I start? What's going to be the best place for me to get going? Which tools should I use and how should I go about implementing that to get the most out of it? And that just whole overwhelm ends up paralyzing people to not take action.

Andrew:
Yeah, I think I agree, and one of the problems I've often seen is, as you've just said, actually people ask which tools should I use? And they're looking for recommendations. But I think one of the the the huge problems with asking that question is you get lots of people's suggestions based on different experiences and different goals that they had when they chose that particular product. So just asking for, for recommendations among colleagues or friends and sort of working through that list isn't necessarily that helpful because it doesn't necessarily give you a deep understanding of what it was they chose that for or what benefits they're really seeing. Just just been given a name for a platform, for a CRM or or for an email campaign manager, those sorts of things, isn't actually that helpful, is it? I think there needs to be a bit more detail that goes behind that to really understand why they're looking for a particular solution.

Claire:
Yeah, I completely agree. I think a much better question to be asking is like, What do I need? Like, what do I need this to do? Because you can end up going with someone's recommendation exactly to your point, who wants something that will do all the bells and whistles every day, they have a completely different business model to what you have? And so they chose a specific thing. But then when you try and implement that, it's either way too much or you don't really understand it or it doesn't have quite the right features. So whenever I'm like looking at how you can choose the right tool for your business, it's always like, OK, what's your vision? How do you want to be living your life and running your business? Like, how do you want things to feel? What's the experience you want to deliver for your clients? And then once we kind of know those things, then we can say, OK, well, this is probably going to be the best one for you to get started. And I think the other thing is, I think people put so much pressure on themselves to get it perfect, and they just want everything to be absolutely perfect. And so they spend ages trying to choose something that's going to be perfect. But the problem is, nothing is ever perfect.

Andrew:
Definitely not, no.

Claire:
Never going to get there. And so it's better to just make a decision. Go with it. You get in worst case scenario, you just change. And yes, it's a couple of weeks of faf, but it's better than months of indecision.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it's better to have something that's 80 percent done and progressing than something that's just 80 percent done, but in your head?

Claire:
Yeah, exactly.

Andrew:
You know, because otherwise you could be benefiting from 80 percent of something rather than, you know, clearly nothing if you've not actually made that step forward. And and I guess that's where perhaps some of your Amazon experience comes in, because I guess Amazon would have as a tech company, obviously one of the largest tech companies in the world will have a very clear and ingrained culture that sort of develops things over time. And you have that continual development, continual innovation. Is that something that people tend to struggle with in your experience there? Just sort of focus on that element of trying to achieve perfection.

Claire:
Yeah, I definitely think for a lot of business owners that your business is your baby, you want it to be perfect and trying to get into the mindset where you deliver something that's good enough for now and then just keep on improving. It can be really, really challenging. And it does take that kind of shift in perspective to be able to think like, OK, well, I will be able to serve this many people at this level. If I can do this and I can give them like 90 percent of what they want and then progressively over time, build it out and build it out and make it better, rather than wanting to go into everything immediately.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah. And I guess that's. Yeah. Amazon will be running these things around all sorts of different areas of their business. And I would imagine there's there's loads of things that you're able to sort of bring to smaller businesses based on that experience that you've had in, you know, as we know, a company that is seen incredible growth and probably automates just about everything I imagine, there'll be a heck of a lot of automation that sits around. Most of us will have seen it first hand, of course.

Claire:
Yeah, definitely. I think the key thing is this idea around having your minimum lovable product. So this is something that is like basically what you would do to develop this is a little bit of market research trying to understand what does what does the client really need, like what's like the main pain point that they have right now and put something out in the world that you will think will solve that or like, mostly solve that those key pain points and then what you can do is then build on that as you continue to grow and scale your business and start to do that. So companies like Amazon and a lot of tech companies, they use this framework called agile, which is where you can kind of build something, scrappily, quickly, get it out into the world, see how it works, and then continually improve it each time you release something. And I think that's a really good way to think about your operations, to think about your marketing, to think about your products and services as you start to grow your business because it allows you to move a lot more quickly, particularly when you're in that stage of trying to scale, versus like a more traditional approach, which is trying to create something perfect because you can spend a lot of time creating that perfect thing, put it out into the world and realize that it's actually not what the client wanted or what doesn't really meet the needs of the market right now.

Andrew:
Yeah, I think one of the examples I was always given, and I'm sure I've probably talked about it before in previous episodes. But if if Apple had waited 10 years to release the iPhone because they didn't think it was perfect? Look at what they would have missed over that period of time. And by way of learning. By way of tech and software and hardware improvements, customer feedback, all of those things. And I think it's particularly important if you're trying something new. If you've if you've. Yes. If you've validated. I think market research is great, but that can perhaps only go so far. Sometimes you've actually got to put something physical out there and get people using it. That's that's real, the real proof in the pudding rather than just getting people's opinions. But to be able to do that, you've got to get it over the line, put it out there, get that feedback and use that then as a basis to justify further investment, particularly if we're talking around websites and things like that, which are the types of conversations that we're having with with our clients. You can't necessarily just say, right, we're going to we're going to rebuild this platform for our sector because actually, you've got to get it off the ground and running before you can necessarily justify that level of expense or that level of detail that goes into it. So I think that that agile approach is really valuable in terms of framing the mindset to get people from not trying to be perfect because, as you said, nothing is perfect.

Claire:
Exactly. And it's really interesting because that kind of approach of agile can be applied in so many different areas. Like a lot of this kind of project management comes from originally lean manufacturing, which was done by Toyota for cars. But now people can kind of use a variation of it in the form of agile to create websites really quickly and to be able to build softwares. So it's just very interesting that whole underlying principle of continuous improvement and that whole underlying principle of basically you don't know what you don't know. I think so. If you can put something out onto the world quickly and get that real proof, then you have a much stronger foundation to build something that's going to actually be useful for people and really get you the results you want.

Andrew:
Yeah, definitely. You've got a bit of a scientific background if I am right in what I've read about you before we before we started recording, are you, are you very much focused on data and using data to to make decisions that can help inform sort of strategic direction and various different approaches that people might implement in their own companies?

Claire:
Yeah. So for those of you listening, so I actually did my degree in chemistry and then I worked in manufacturing for a few years before moving to Amazon. And in all of those areas, data is extremely important, especially nowadays, with it being more easier and easier than ever to collect data. Being able to understand and use it effectively is so, so powerful. So it's you can. Say something intuitively, in fact, at Amazon, we were always told off for just going on our gut like, for example, if I worked in homewares for a while. But when it's sunny, obviously things to dry clothes outside sell really, really fast. But we weren't allowed to say, oh, it's just because it's sunny, because that's not intuitive. You would have to prove it with like the date that that and the temperatures and be able to map that back so that you can then build a strategy around that and start to plan and develop. So the more, the more you can use your data, the better you can really start to build a strategy that you can start to scale and start to really grow. So I think things like how you are as a baseline, like things like your marketing metrics are very, very easy to access these days, and they can be very powerful for helping you to understand what kind of content people are most interested in, what kind of social media post go well, then from my side and the things that I do around operations, where are people getting stuck in your processes, like if you have a CRM and you're seeing that a lot of people are getting stuck in one part of your onboarding phase, like what can you do to make that more streamlined? And it just allows you to be a lot more targeted and more efficient in the way that you run things and build things rather than trying to do everything.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely. And I guess it's really by putting the right systems and processes in place that not only allow the front end to work, i.e. what perhaps customers or, or employees might see as part of their interactions, but also the back end in terms of how that data is collected, that allows you to build up a bit of a picture, then to use as you go forward so you can actually look back. And perhaps you you're making notes on on when weather was particularly good or those sorts of things, or perhaps the systems that you put in place are able to do that sort of intuitively, perhaps because you run a report that shows you had X number of customers or sales in a given sector or product at a given time. So I guess your consulting really is about putting those frameworks in place. So not only are things like the customer journey improved, but the data collection is improved and ultimately that leads to better decisions that are being made in businesses that obviously support the scale and growth.

Claire:
Exactly. So once you kind of have it all put in place, you can really start to build on it. So you have your first run of like a launch or of an onboarding process and you get a certain amount of data. But then you can use that the next time you do it to make things better because you have a much clearer idea of where are things falling out, what's going really well, what do people like, what people dislike? And it just becomes a really empowering thing for your business to help you scale?

Andrew:
Yeah. And that comes back to your minimal loveable product and agile because it's the repetition, isn't it? Then that allows that cycle to build

Claire:
Exactly then that repetition and just keeping going and keeping in? I know it can feel a little. I think for some people, it can feel a little bit like, Oh, but it's not. I want to do lots of things. I want to do new things and innovate, innovate in those areas. And so sometimes there's a resistance there to just kind of like doing the same. But as you start to do that more and more and more, it becomes easier and easier and easier and more and more streamlined. So you have that time to be able to be creative, to be able to do those other innovative products, projects knowing that your baseline is really secure.

Andrew:
Yeah. And I think the sort of learning point that comes out of that as well is that the implementation is never done either. You know, you put these systems and processes in place, and we see this time and time again with websites, we put something like Google Analytics on a website, for example, and it's great at collecting the data, obviously, but actually making the time to then go back and review the data and know which bits of data are going to be most important that clearly you can be faced with overwhelm. And I think it's really vital that you can narrow that data down into some really key metrics that you know you're going to look at over whatever sort of time period, whether it's every week, every month. And that allows you then to really focus in on what that data is telling you, because I think the great danger is that overwhelm means that you just start and think, Oh, I can't get into that today, can't focus on that. And then it starts to drip down and your momentum gets lost ultimately, because you find that overwhelming amount of data. So I think being able to be really clear and this comes back to what you were talking about having the vision, what is it you need that to do for you gives you then the opportunity to have a clearer idea of what it is you actually need to measure to get there.

Claire:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's such an important point, having that vision, having that clarity on what your goals are, we'll just allow you to really focus in on just a few data points and you really only want to be looking at a few. So like you say, it doesn't feel overwhelming. You can collect everything. The key is knowing what to actually look for and what to actually look at. I think the other thing, though, I don't know if you've read a book called Traction at all?

Andrew:
I have, yes. And because that talks about the entrepreneurial operating system, doesn't it?

Claire:
Yes.

Andrew:
Yeah, that's the one. Yes, to be honest, it's the book that I've tried to read. I don't know how many times, but I've dipped in and out of it. I probably have read it all by now, but I've never read it all in one go.

Claire:
I think I've read it twice. I'm such a nerd. So but it's very interesting because one of the things they say there that I think is really useful when you're thinking about any of these kind of like momentum building, continuous improvement, agile strategies they like, they recommend doing it on a 90 day cycle. So organizations, people, human beings, we typically lose focus on a thing after 90 days. So if you can reset your goals, your metrics and make sure everything's realigned after those 90 days, you can really start to build that momentum and that traction within your businesses.

Andrew:
Yeah, yeah. I think that's yeah. Monthly almost becomes too much, doesn't it, unless you're on a real aggressive growth or you've got huge volume in terms of customers, that gives you so much data that quarterly is just too long. Certainly quarterly for me seems a more comfortable option.

Claire:
Yeah, definitely. It kind of gives you that little bit of breathing space, and time for things to work because you really want to allow something to play out. If you I think if you're doing it monthly, obviously it depends on your organization. But if you're doing it monthly, it can become like you haven't let a strategy or a system fully mature within a 30 day period, so you might not get a full picture of how well it's working.

Andrew:
Hmm. Okay. Let's talk a little bit about systems and processes because I have a view that, you know your whole business is a system, but you have systems that sit within it and then systems can break down into processes. And I think a way that I've often explained it, it's a system. It could be like transport for London. You know, you've got a transit system that connects buses, trains and what have you that can help people get from A to B across London. Within that, you've got processes that might be things like your ticket machines, your signage, your maintenance plans, all those kind of things. How do you tend to define systems and processes? And where would you suggest companies start if they feel they need a bit of a systems overhaul?

Claire:
So I tend to like think about the like the departments of the company. I actually really like your analogy. That's a really good way of thinking about it, and I may steal it. But I also just like to think about it as like your different departments within a company. So not so much a role, but more like an overall department. So we have things like your operations, your account management, client management piece, your HR departments, your marketing departments and then break it down within those different processes. So when it comes to looking at where you should start, if you feel like you need to do an overhaul, I would say look at what's really taking you the most time. I think most people have an intuitive view of what's broken like, and so you can often use that as your gut check of where you think you should focus. But typically, I see for people, onboarding and client onboarding is becomes a massive bottleneck, and it's actually a really easy one to tackle within your systems and processes because a lot of the steps that you use will be quite structured and will be very similar each time. So you'll always send out contracts for people. You'll always send out invoices for people. You'll always have some kind of like welcome initial scheduling briefing document questionnaire piece that will come on. And so if you don't have a system in place or you don't have like automation around there, it's a really nice area to start because it's so standardized that you can have a lot of impact and removing churn and removing kind of bottlenecks by looking at that process first.

Andrew:
And it strikes me the key is that standardisation as much as possible, at least if you're just getting started with sort of reviewing processes or considering automation, having those standardized processes are perhaps the easiest, arguably the safest place to start as well.

Claire:
Yeah, definitely, definitely. And you can find that you can get some massive wins like the client I mentioned earlier, who by automating was able to then just be fully booked out for the next three months. And then you can have very similar things because if something's taking up a lot of manual time and manual labor, it becomes a big impact on your profitability as well. If you're having someone doing that all the time, and so by using these kind of automated automations to standardize things, you can get a lot of that money back through the system.

Andrew:
Yeah. And I think another area that's really important you talk about onboarding that customer service side is, I think it's always one of those that starts to wobble, potentially if you if you start to grow very quickly or if you're very focused on growth, you know, there is, I think, increasing scope to see cracks appear. And obviously, if customers see that it's not a great place to be, you know, because you can either lose those customers or they get a little bit disgruntled or they they feel that they've perhaps chosen the right company to work with. So perhaps focusing on some of those customer flows, those customer touch points are the best place to begin? Or is it more a case of focusing on the automation? Sorry, more internal processes that frees up people's time to spend more time with their customers, which a bit of a chicken and egg there, I suppose. Which which would you think comes first?

Claire:
I definitely think the customer touchpoints is key, particularly with onboarding. It's something like it takes 12 positive experiences with a client for them to forget one negative. So if you're onboarding process, if things are falling through the cracks, if they're not getting the resources that they were expecting, if they they paid you a load of money and then they don't hear from you for three weeks because you're really busy, that's going to be a negative experience. Then you're ending up with a lot of positive experiences you have to give, to be able to win that back. It would be you'll be able to you'll get yourself a lot more grace if you can start to streamline this and also by having it standardised, it makes it really consistent for all your different clients. And that's just a really nice place to be in terms of building out your own reputation and building out that and being able to get the referrals, et cetera, from people that you want.

Andrew:
Yeah, it's interesting. Isn't it been? If you've got that many negative experiences to sort of overwrite, that's ultimately a huge cost, isn't it? Because you probably start and give things away for free or you do little extras here and there that you're really trying to claw back that credibility, which which again just goes to show the value of having some of these systems and processes in place does have a direct impact on your profitability. Yes, it's going to take a bit of time to get things set up. Yes, there might be a few teething problems and learning curve to accompany all of that, but ultimately it can have a real impact on that bottom line.

Claire:
Oh, definitely. Like I've had clients, you've been able to double their profitability in a month from doing these kind of things and getting those processes in place, because not only can you create that consistency, but actually because you are able to save time through the process, you can take on more clients because you have those people now freed up to be able to do that. So you kind of hit it from both sides.

Andrew:
So that's sort of brings us on to quite a good point about sort of customer experience, customer journey. And I know you've obviously moved on from Amazon and I don't want to keep labouring the point because Amazon is just, you know, has got such a reputation. But customer experience must fit pretty central to more or less everything Amazon do aside from data. I think they're more of a data company than an e-commerce company. So, so you know what? How do Amazon view CX, as it's become known customer experience? And you know, how can how can other companies sort of embrace that customer experience sort of culture, I suppose if you like, to ultimately deliver that, that outstanding customer experience, I think, you know, for us as a digital agency, we know when we get a tender or when we're approached, we know that there's probably another five companies, let's say, that are going to be included in that. They all do a good job. You know, a lot of the products now that people are buying has been commoditized, you know? I'm not saying that websites have necessarily been commoditized, certainly at a certain level they have. But we know that there's all of the companies that are approached and probably do a pretty good job and it comes down to that customer experience that ultimately makes the difference. So what sort of things should companies be looking at around customer experience and how should they be sort of measuring that customer journey, I suppose.

Claire:
So I think there's two lenses that you can really look at it from an Amazon do this very well. So they they are a data company like you said. So customer experience, they use a lot of data to understand that. So like like you were saying earlier, where people falling out in the process, also market research like they have have a lot of tools available to be able to collect, like when things go wrong in the process, them and you request support and you request help. There are people who will analyze that and understand like, how can we make this better? And we'll do. And they and the other way that we look at it, that I think is very useful. And if you're not in the position where you have a lot of data, you can still do this. So we are encouraged working there and something I actually really enjoy doing it and doing my own business too is this kind of walk the store. So try and put yourself in the shoes of your client, in the shoes of your customer, like your ideal client. So we talk about this a lot within marketing, but how would you want the experience to be and like, what are the steps and try and anticipate what would be the questions or what would I want next? So when you're walking through the Amazon website as an example that I think most people will be familiar with, it's kind of like so we know everyone, such as we spent loads of money trying to get people to use browse, but no one's ever going to use browse on Amazon. You just search.

Claire:
Ok, so how can we make that? So we know that they're going to search? So things like, OK, how can we autofill keywords? That's the thing that's going to make searching easier for them. How can we do all of this? And then once they have done their search, like if they're we're always looking at improving the algorithm, like, are they clicking things like when they search, are they finding what they want? And then how can we make it look nicer? What does a good search experience look like? So if you're looking for a TV, you're going to want to see all the specs of the TV in the search, because that's what you're interested in. That's a feature led purchase. But if you're looking for something like a sofa, you want to see how it looks. Does it look nice? Does it look comfortable like all of those? So you want to see big images in the search, and that's a different way of doing it. So just trying to think about what what it is that you think your customer is going to want what you think it is that your client is going to want and anticipating that before they get there. So it's always ready. And if you can as much as possible, put yourself in that seat. Whenever you're thinking about things, you're going to go a lot further than you would if you were just kind of like submitting a proposal, for example.

Andrew:
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, that search is an interesting one because with all of that data, you're actually providing a personalized experience without referencing people by name. I think a lot of people think, Oh, as soon as you introduce personalization, it's it's based around their own personal attributes, such as their name or their birthday, or whatever other attributes might have been collected along along the way. But actually, that personalization can sit a level higher and and focus around people's behaviours, and therefore you can introduce that personalization based on the expectations that people would have. So, like you say, been feature driven versus visually driven and search is always an area which can be incredibly challenging. A lot of people, I think, think that, you know, Google's made it look incredibly simple just by having a very simple search page. Obviously, we're all familiar with Google search results, but when it comes particularly from our experience when it comes to building searches on websites, it can be really quite complex because people do like to search in lots of different ways and they do have different expectations about about what they see. And you know what you're basically saying there is a one size doesn't fit all.

Claire:
Indeed. And I think it's it's an interesting game, and I think that's an interesting point that you make around personalization. I mean, I worked in an AI team for a while, so we always challenged on this because people do think it's around that. But it is so much more around trends and anticipating a more high level idea or challenge for someone. And if you can start to do that within your business, whatever way it looks, then you're going to be able to stand out more for the person who is your ideal person.

Andrew:
I wondered if we could just pick up on something you said you worked in an AI team. Your company name is also Artificially Intelligent Consulting. What are you seeing by way of AI? I think a lot of us are familiar that it's it's it's sort of making inroads, and it's probably we've probably been affected by AI far more than we realize. But what are you seeing in terms of AI and that that progress and machine learning is this something that is is is affecting us all? Is it something that you're seeing come into smaller businesses? Are there things now that smaller business, smaller companies can take advantage of when it comes to AI.

Claire:
Yes, definitely. So AI is becoming more and more commoditized, so it is everywhere, like it's all over and there's a lot of different depending on how how much of a purist you are, for want of a better word. You can. You can see it as like a very different thing to if you're just looking to use it. But there are a lot of opportunities for small businesses now. So, for example, like a really simple one, is having things like chat bots that can answer a fake use. That's a very basic, basic form of AI, but that's something that a lot of people can take advantage of. And there are all sorts of tools now that can help you with predictive modelling of your like analytics that are now much more available to smaller companies. I think this will continue. I think data driven is something that's not going to go away.

Andrew:
Definitely not. No. It's here to stay, and I think that's that's going to be one of the big areas of demand, really, isn't it? I mean, all of this data has been collected left, right and centre. I suppose there's two ways you could look at it. One is how much of that data do we actually need? Is there an environmental impact of collecting so much data that then has to be stored? But then who and what of it is going to be analyzed?

Claire:
Yeah. So in terms of the environmental impact, I think actually one of the biggest contributors currently and forgive me if I get this wrong, but one of the biggest contributors globally to global warming is servers and how much we're collecting of data and how much we're storing. So there are a lot of challenges around that because they cost a lot to keep cool and all of that kind of stuff. So that's a really interesting area. But I also think that, try I think that's why it's so important to understand like what is your vision and what is your goals so that you can start to use this data in an effective way. There is so much you can do, so many companies popping up all the time that are going to help you manage that data and analyze that data. But if you really want to take advantage of it, it's understanding like, OK, what is the experience I want to deliver and what are my goals that are going to help me get there?

Claire:
And you've got a bit of a process that you've come up with yourself, I think, to sort of help people go through that. Do you want to just sort of summarize your your drive process?

Claire:
Yeah. So I have a framework called drive, which is based a lot on this lean and agile thinking of how you develop things. So the first step is to define so this is around understanding like what your vision? What do you want? How do you want your life to be? How do you want your client experience to be, just defining all of that for yourself. Then reward, which is about metrics like, what are your KPIs? How are you going to measure this? How do you measure success so that you know that you're on the right track? Identify. So this is where we look at, OK, so now that we know, why are we trying to get to and how are we going to measure it? We want to look at, OK, what are some of the processes and things that we can put in place to get us there. Verify, this is where you look at how can I streamline these processes and start to automate them? And then, of course, the final step is evaluate. So once a quarter generally, or maybe once every six months, depending on the process, you want to go back and evaluate, like, is this working? Are we hitting our KPIs? Where can we improve it? And how can we make this better so that we can continue to build momentum? And that's drive.

Andrew:
And not surprisingly, it covers a lot of the elements that we've we've spoken about as as part of the conversation right through from that vision and and that continual improvement actually re-evaluation that really never needs to stop. You know, that's something that will will never end. And, you know, for as long as you're wanting to grow or improve the experience that you're offering, that continual evaluation is just absolutely essential, isn't it?

Claire:
Exactly. I think it's it's very easy to think that you need to add more and more and more to be able to grow when actually you can probably go a lot further by just improving what you already have.

Andrew:
Yeah. And I guess that's another thing that particularly with all these apps and things that keep appearing, it can be sometimes overlooked because you think, oh, there's all these tools that comes back to that overwhelm thinking, Oh, there must be something that can help me, but potentially, you know, you don't necessarily need to go down that route. There might be more than you, then you realize you have right in front of you that can can get you off in the right start.

Claire:
Exactly, exactly.

Andrew:
All right. Well, it's been a really interesting conversation. And, you know, loved hearing bits about Amazon, I could ask you questions about Amazon forever and a day. But you know, that is a chapter that you've obviously taken experience from, and now you're applying it to other things. So tell our listeners a little bit more about where they might find out more about you. Where where do you tend to be online? How can people connect with you?

Claire:
Yeah. So I think the best places right now to connect with me are through my website, which is artificiallyintelligentconsulting.com. You can also message me on Instagram at ClairewhittakerAIC or I do have a Facebook group for agency owners and high level consultants who are looking to grow and scale their businesses, which is called Systems and Automation for Visionary Agency Owners and coaches. But I'll send you all the links so that you can have that.

Andrew:
That's great. Well, we've put those links on the page with the show notes, so we put a transcript together from the conversation. And like I say, we'll have the show notes with those links to all those places that you've mentioned. So, Claire, thank you very much for joining me this morning. Really appreciate your time, and it's been great to chat with you.

Claire:
Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Andrew:
So thank you again to my guest. You've been listening to Claire Whittaker talking about systems and processes and of course, the experience she's had with Amazon, among other aspects of her career and how she now supports businesses to improve their systems and processes with automation. I could have asked her questions about her Amazon experience all day long, and it was particularly interesting to hear of her work with AI, which is a whole new topic that can go down any number of different avenues around the ethics of how it's used. The risks and, of course, the benefits it can introduce. But of course, the reality is it's been used increasingly among our everyday lives. So maybe that's a topic that we'll dig into for a future episode. Well, at the links we've mentioned to the show notes, which you'll find at adigital.agency/podcast, along with a full transcript of the show. If you've enjoyed the episode, then please do leave us a five star rating and a review over on Apple Podcasts. Similarly, if you've any feedback or topics you'd like to cover in future episodes, then do drop me a line to hello at the client side show. So thanks again for joining me today. I hope you've enjoyed the conversation. I'll be back in a couple of weeks time, so I'll hopefully see you then have a great week and see you next time.

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I think people put so much pressure on themselves to get it perfect, and they just want everything to be absolutely perfect. And so they spend ages trying to choose something that's going to be perfect. But the problem is, nothing is ever perfect.

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