You have to design the system not just the page

Hopefully this won't be read so much as a gripe but more a reminder to us all that DESIGN is something that is not just about artwork. Design is about the entire process you are working on. I am speaking specifically about business and the systems that help you run them. And even more specifically about digital processes in your business.

Building systems takes effort. And when I mean systems, you should have a system for everything you do. You have to understand that nothing stands in isolation. How you answer the phone, what happens when you publish content to your website, when you ask for feedback all of these things are not in isolation to other processes. They are part of many interactions.

You HAVE to think about all the interactions, all the processes that will result from what you are doing, and plan them too.

I have two examples one great and one quite dreadful.

In the first instance this tale relates to OPSM a national eyewear retailer.

  • I went to get new contact lenses, only one pack in stock, ordered more, told I would receive SMS when they arrived
  • SMS never came.
  • Remembered I need to go down when last ones are about to need replacing - still no message
  • Nothing too bad here, I just need to go and get my lenses

So then I receive an email soliciting my feedback on my specific OPSM store.

did they really mean it?

I was excited!!

Of course I am sceptical I can see it comes from someone other than them (I thought as I didn't know the parent company name - BRANDING! BRANDING! BRANDING!) specifically but I felt that it made sense to gather and collate your customer feedback through a third party provider if you are a big national company and will get thousands of responses.

I have no idea who luxottica is but I guess they get paid heaps by OPSM

Yes i will ignore this is from some survey company or such like for now cos look at the pretty pictures - they love me

And of course it was a nicely designed introduction.

I felt loved, in a business to consumer way. Here I thought they cared and they would want to know I was a teeny bit miffed they had forgotten my order.

OPSM Strathpine Cares about me


And as all good stories go, this is where my tale becomes a little farcical. So I figure sure I would love to give you feedback even if it is going to take me 15 MINUTES (are you kidding)

Seriously, 15 minutes?

I mean 15 minutes to give you feedback? Is this really about me. I still wanted to give feedback, my last visit took me about 15-20 minutes just to purchase over the counter due to a very slow worker, and then you never rang, so I wanted to have my say. I wanted to help fix the system.

So I click through, land on a survey page, start to think this possibly is a lot less about ME YOUR CUSTOMER and feeling so much more like this is about you and your marketing department wanting to do some market research.

Click, click, click and then BAZINGA - sorry you are not qualified to complete this survey.


I am YOUR CUSTOMER - go read your email, you said you loved me and wanted my opinion.

I answered three questions about my private health and I DON'T QUALIFY.

Of course I figure this is all a simple mistake and OPSM Strathpine really does want to hear from me so I go back and ...

I have not - you won't let me

This is not a well designed process.

The entire 'system' was either pulled together by different parts of a whole without a clear vision or alternatively (and cynically) it is just a poor example of bad market research in disguise.

If they really wanted my feedback they could have had a three question survey on one screen with a general feedback box at the bottom. I bet their business would be the better for it.

This shows me a system that really wasn't though through. The messages while pretty and well constructed never had a chance.

What you need to do is to step back and draw out all the touchpoints, all the processes involved.

Think like a user, what will they do, how will they respond.

As I say to many of my customers "Would you do it?" and if the answer is a resounding no then it probably means you are trying to get something in a way that is wrong.

In stark contrast, I recently purchased for the first time a Fridge Filter. I went to my local Good Guys store and asked if they stocked them for my brand.

"No sorry we don't however we know who does." The sales person walked me to his desk and provided me with a simple postcard with all the information I needed and explained how it worked for me. (Process 1 )

I took the card went home and rather than ringing took the online option.

Typed in the current filter number, and got the replacement unit. 3 options (buy single, two pack or three pack). Great information (not the world's most beautiful site) did the job, explaining I could store them and they don't have a shelf life so it's cheaper to get multiple (Process 2 as they include shipping in the price - think about it)

Long story short, everything from the ecommerce page through to the confirmations and notices, all let me THEIR CUSTOMER know what was happening. Sure it cost them more to do, each extra page / step would have added to their development bill, but it works. It showed they cared enough to step their way through the process and try and make it better. (No I don't think it's perfect yet but boy it does a good job)

I get my final shipping notification and then an offer.

Someone in this retail business thought about their systems

I don't have to take up on it, but what a great way to look after me.

They figured it out .They know how to keep customers happy and keep regular orders coming through.

And they thought it through. They designed their processes and messages!

Contact Lenses have to be changed regularly, like the filter they have a set period of time when you should change them. Maybe OPSM needs to go to school with the team at and understand that it isn't about the artwork (what many call design) on the pages or emails or offers you send out, but about what the process is really about and how to help your customer in the best way possible.

Doing simple things really well is something that happens by design. Processes need to be improved and the best way to do that is to get customer feedback no matter how good or bad. OPSM failed in this instance whereas Bombora Supplies ( didn't.

Oh and to show how poorly the entire OPSM effort really was, scroll up and notice the social media buttons that adorn the email I was sent.

I sent a tweet to @opsm today (they appear to want to be social) and as of yet the Customer Support team is a little tied up to be able to tweet back (12+ hours later)

All i needed was a tweet - @OPSM - to show you really understood

I think maybe I might be investigating other suppliers for my lenses. Not so my fridge filters.

Ireckon you need to step back and think about every system in your business. We are. It's very very hard. But it matters.

Well that's what ireckon. What do you reckon?


  1. Update: Good to see that the message did get through in the end and OPSM have contacted me through several channels and followed it through to see what my original issue was.

    As noted it was a minor thing and I appreciate the follow through. They have people on the ground that care and seem to be paying attention which is all you can expect. I realise things don’t always got to plan – Jeez we are all human!

    Hopefully though they will re-look through their survey “feedback” process and see how it actually works for their customers.

    That is the real message in this post – check your systems and if they aren’t working then make sure you adjust them until they do what they are meant to or what they should!

    Cheers OPSM for handling it in the way you have.

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