By Marc Nieman
An Agile mindset will create the customer centric organization we need to be in order to survive and thrive.
We all want to offer excellent CX; but how do we do this?
Ever since working with the authors of “Outside In, how to put the customer at the center of your business”, back in 2010 I’ve become addicted to helping companies provide a better Customer Experience.
I actually was “addicted” to CX before that time, but with this book found the right framework.
Of course I’m not alone in this, more and more companies realize that improving the Customer Experience is a crucial necessity.
Forrester speaks of “the age of the customer” and for at least 2 years now Gartner states that CX is “the new competitive battlefield”.
But often I still hear professionals ask; senior management wants us to improve our CX but how do we actually do this?
- Do we build and deliver solutions our customers really want?
- To improve our customer journeys & touchpoints across the whole organization?
- To involve all disciplines and break down silo’s?
- Do we shorten our time to market?
- To leverage all the ideas our stakeholders have?
- Do we improve cooperation with our partners in our ecosystem?
“We need to adapt, be flexible, open minded, multi skilled, but this a paradigm shift from our historic way of working!”
Agile is the key to resolve these issues!
I believe the answer to this cry for help has been around for quite a number of years but hasn’t been recognized as such by many, because it was, and still is, (wrongly) associated with the IT department.
It’s all about creating an Agile culture / mindset!
Coming from the software development world Agile contains all the building blocks, principles and values, for creating a customer centric organization!
Agile characteristics are:
- Customer satisfaction
- Focus on value for the customer
- Work in multi-disciplinary teams & close cooperation between disciplines
- Personal interaction
- Frequent delivery of working solutions
- Continuous attention to good design and simplicity
- Adapting to change.
Allow me to elaborate.
Customer satisfaction and Focus on Value for the customer.
It’s a fact that satisfied customers are more loyal, spend more and speak positively about our brands.
Research also puts a direct link between companies that excel at CX and their financial health.
So is it all about money at the end of the day?
Yes and no.
Companies, in any industry, profit and non-profit, need to make money to satisfy shareholders, pay their staff and invest in the future.
Customers are not interested in our products, they’re looking for value in solving their problems and meeting their needs and aspirations.
They “want it all and want it now” and they’re willing to pay!
Improving your CX doesn’t mean the customer is always right, but it does mean we need to develop products and services that meet customer’s needs; Have value in their world!
We do this by sharing our ideas early on through mvp’s, mock ups and demo’s to ensure we invest in viable products & services going forward.
Too often we have invested millions in ideas that failed to launch.
Working in multi-disciplinary teams & personal interaction.
Everybody owns the customer experience!
Offering a great service means nothing when billing is incorrect, the site isn’t working properly and customer service isn’t able to solve customer’s problems.
Instead of working in disconnected teams we need to truly break down the walls that separate departments and work with 1 team on integrated seamless customer journeys.
And collaboration starts with good communication, speaking a common language independent of the organizational discipline; IT, marketing, sales, HR, finance and management use Agile terminology to understand each other.
Frequent delivery, with high quality and excellent design.
There is no time to spend months, if not years, on developing new services.
With ever shorter life cycles we need to move fast to satisfy the customer’s needs.
But in doing so deliver relevant, easy to use and enjoyable solutions.
Continuous delivery and improvement are key characteristics of an Agile organization.
Through on-going iterations an Agile team is always working on further developing and improving the solution they are responsible for.
Adapting to change.
We all know the world around us changes at a speed never experienced before.
Products and services become a success, and obsolete again quickly, sometimes in a matter of weeks or months; not necessarily years and certainly not decades.
Darwin’s thinking on adaptability has been dusted off and is the new mantra companies live by; or so they say!
We still see a lot of companies using detailed annual planning cycles, based on the assumption that we know what the state-of-play will be 12 to 24 months from now?
Management needs to give teams the freedom to develop and market solutions in a flexible manner; providing “the freedom within a framework” that allow teams to decide for themselves how to contribute to the company’s vision.
Managers cannot tell the team what to do on a daily basis; as they were used to from their traditional command and control perspective.
In an agile organization management is truly about leadership; not busy with doing things right, but thinking about what are the right things to do.
The solution team itself has a continuous focus on highest quality!
At the same time teams have the responsibility to frequently inform and involve all stakeholders in showing what value they’re delivering.
Regular demonstrations to showcase solutions and gather ideas are an integral part of the transparent communications required to become a truly customer centric organization.
The Agile transformation will support a successful future.
I believe that transforming into a customer centric organization is possible for any company; no matter what the size, industry, region or background of the company is.
It’s a tough journey that requires patience, energy, hard work and an open mind, but using the core Agile values and principles we transform Customer Experience from an idea to a day-to-day reality!
Are you ready to start?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, let me know your feedback!