A polished Customer Experience (CX) has proven to be a major advantage, especially in highly competitive markets. Often the focus of this CX research is to learn how to offer personalization based on empathy (and lots of data) given the customer’s experience. The standard methods being used for this most primary CX research are slow, inefficient and imprecise. Agile methods pioneered in product development offer inspiration for ways to acquire accurate customer experience information fast, so you can act before competitors to offer the personalized experience your customers crave.
Benefits of Agile CX
Customer Experience teams have struggled to adapt to the exponential increase of non-physical products (like SaaS) in the consumer market. Compared to a physical product, a non-physical product requires much more interaction after the purchase between the individual and the brand. CX Management is an offshoot of the Customer Service designation, essentially acting as a modified form of market research, notorious for being slow-paced. The principle behind Agile methodology is to always be moving faster. Applied approaches to this methodology include “scrum” and “kanban”. Development of Agile methodology has been mainly driven by product managers from SaaS companies. In the world of SaaS CX, customer preferences are constantly changing. This, in turn, requires your customer profiles (Learn how to create a customer profile here) to be updated constantly, to ensure you remain aware of shifting preferences. Implementing Agile methodology to your research allows you to keep up with this constant change. The Agile research cycle is conducted in highly-responsive short sprints, that allow you to pivot and remain focused on your objective as trends are observed.
An Agile CX Research Sprint
There are four main components to an Agile Research Sprint, which are explained in-depth in our post on Agile Customer Research For Product Managers. They include first organizing your sprint through a Gantt Chart or Project Management Software, then cycling through secondary research, expert interviews/IDI’s, and a quantitative survey. To ensure your project succeeds, your team needs to embrace both transparency and accountability. This can be achieved by setting explicit rules and enforcing them and assigning a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) to complete tasks over a specific timeframe. A practice often used over the course of a sprint to verify it’s on track is to host “stand-up” meetings, which are essentially short meetings with the goal of getting project updates and identifying needs that are holding up your team’s progress. It’s within these meetings that you’ll discover if a Project pivot is needed. Additionally, because an Agile research sprint is so fast-paced, one of the biggest keys to operating a successful project is to be well-organized. A general standard for all research related files is that if you can’t find something within 30-seconds, you aren’t well-organized.
Becoming Agile in Your CX
The transition from using traditional CX research to an Agile methodology is not one that happens overnight. People generally resist change, making a gradual transition the most effective way to begin implementing this system. A practice used to ease the first-step in this conversion is to divide larger projects into smaller sprints and to display quick wins achieved through setting and completing milestones and tasks. An additional process that can be used to differentiate your CX is mapping all touchpoints. A touchpoint includes any interaction that occurs between your organization and your customer. To improve business efficiency, your organization should be attempting to reduce touchpoints whenever possible (Amazon’s “War With Friction”). So when observing these touchpoints, it’s important to maintain a comprehensive view to avoid hyperfocusing on something potentially insignificant.
It’s important to realize that Agile methodology may not be a realistic fit for your organization’s culture. Agile requires fast pivots necessitating quick decision making, transparency, and radical honesty throughout the entire process to be successful. These are not requirements that can be met by every organization. The best way to draw attention to CX in your company is to share stories of customer success and failure within your organization, which are in abundant supply when using Agile methodology. The purpose of sharing these stories is to reiterate to everyone in your organization that in reality your customers are the reason you’re in business, and your company’s success is dependent on their experience.
Want more on the benefits of Agile? See our post on Agile Customer Research For Product Managers.