Is “Agile” the Key to Customer Experience Success?

Guest Post by Amanda Forshew, Customer Alignment

In theory, an agile approach should be perfect for Customer Experience. However, taken literally, it could make matters worse. Many companies have been busy trying to ‘close the loop’, taking feedback from customers about what’s not working and fixing problems. There hasn’t been a focus on innovation and improvements that will really drive the customer experience forward.

Agile Customer Experience means more than quick fixes. Doing the quick and easy things to silence those customers who choose to give their feedback or complain, may not have a great impact on or value for the customer, in the long run. If, however, an agile approach to CX is employed to develop and introduce small changes that combined have cumulative big impact for customers, then it could be what is needed.

Moving at the speed of customer expectations

An agile business mindset or strategy would help businesses move towards greater customer centricity if done well; i.e. If it focuses on customer intelligence rather than quick wins, at its heart. Perhaps there is an argument for such an approach instead of a huge, all-encompassing customer transformation program.

Agile would mean that Customer Experience change or improvements are easier to implement, benefits can be seen more quickly and the process is more inclusive. It would also bring a broader range of people from around the business on the journey through day to day agile team-based working.

Customer Experience for me has always been about the connection between customer, the company represented by employees and execution. I think taking a lesson from the agile ‘manifesto’ could help many businesses overcome their current roadblocks to successful CX. Roadblocks include a lack of tangible benefits, having clear and broad ownership, inability to operationalize data, departmental detachment, in order to deliver results for customers, at pace.

Essentially five attributes of Agile Customer Experience should be:

  • Continuous customer listening, artful analysis and speedy insight sharing
  • Momentum through small, frequent improvements vs. larger infrequent ones
  • Only initiatives that deliver perceived value for customer
  • Collaborative cross-department teamwork and accountability
  • Curiosity – a process of persistent questioning, building and learning

Creating Agile Customer Experience

How can companies go about creating Agile Customer Experience?

  1. Agile customer listening

Oftentimes, VoC is owned by one part of the business and focuses on getting feedback and measurement; customer or market research is in another. There needs to be one holistic, interpreted and actioned view of the customer. All sources should be brought together to serve decision making, prioritization and plans.

  1. Agile governance & decision-making

A cross functional customer board convenes frequently (at least weekly) in a data-driven, immersive, fast-paced, decision-making environment, as the filter for all things customer. Not a reporting meeting but a sharing and decision-making forum with people empowered to make changes and committed to cascade down to their teams and their sphere of influence.

  1. Agile Prioritization

Armed with an on-going steam of data and information about what matters most to customers, companies can make important trade-offs and prioritization decisions. This way the number of ‘quick wins’ or fixes are kept to a minimum, unless they truly add value to the experience for the customer and meet or exceed their expectations.

  1. Agile planning and measurement

A flexible road map – an overall but adaptable number of initiatives that will make a difference to the customer experience but within a plan that can respond to changes as they happen. There are short-term targets and clear customer benefits to each of the initiatives.

Successful agility relies upon continuous improvement. The plan or roadmap needs to balance quick impact initiatives and those which can genuinely be classified as innovative.

  1. Agile execution

Execution of initiatives or CX improvements need to be simple, fast, focused and iterative. There should be a mind-set of testing and piloting e.g. ideas may not be 80% right from the start but with in a series of ‘repeatable sprints’, they will meet customer expectations and needs.

We have a responsibility to constantly question what could be better to continually improve. As Albert Einstein said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” This is the spirit of Agile Customer Experience.

Do you have a vision for Agile Customer Experience?

Are you tangibly delivering value to the customer in your CX efforts? If not, maybe agile should be a priority.

If CX is about meeting and exceeding customer expectations at every touch point over time; and agile is about better, speedier execution; then CX and agile could be a business marriage made in customer heaven.

Agile Customer Experience is about being agile as much as doing agile. Agile, along with a connected and customer-centric organization and a rigorous and deliberate focus on customer value, will lead to Smiling Companies, Happy Customers.

About the Author:

Amanda Forshew
Amanda Forshew

Amanda writes and shares Thought Leadership at Customer Alignment, where she draws on her 15 years of coaching, guiding, mentoring and consulting for clients in various sectors and sizes around the world. Championing the customer within the organization for commercial & customer success, is her passion. She helps establish organizations understand how to connect to customers & find ways to align their expectations with the culture & capability of the organization. The goal in mind: Smiling Companies, Happy Customers.

Note: “Agile Customer Experience” in this article does not represent “Agile CX”, a trademark of David Fish.

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