Combat Uncertainty With Agile CX Practices
Back in January 2020, I was preparing to present at a conference in London and the subject of my talk was going to be examining global social trends and their future CX impact. Naively, we thought we could measure, forecast and quantify major social and economic trends. Until the unexpected happened…
The truth is though, any business and any CX team always operates under pressure from the unstructured external environment, unpredictable events, risks and change. Over the past 10 years, business planning and transformation cycles have at least halved. We see ‘clear’ strategies get reversed mid-year and planning CX initiatives becomes only relatively accurate at best. So, how on earth are you supposed to demonstrate tangible results from your CX projects, when everything seems to change at the speed of light, and there is never enough time, resources or people?
Consider the seven pillars of agile CX management. Applying them to most common CX challenges, such as demonstrating ROI, creating a collaborative customer-centric environment and achieving management buy-in, delivers 3-4 times faster project execution, easy team re-focus supported by clear rules and work practices as well as reduced stress due to frequent feedback and continuous change management.
Do this every year
1. Business strategy mapping
Your CX strategy should stem from and support the overall business strategy. Understanding your (evolving) business goals will ensure your team is clear on priorities, decision making is fast and reliable and CX projects get the attention they deserve. At the time of crisis business strategy may change which will require an emergency review of your CX projects and tasks.
Do this every month
2. Project maps
This is where you describe your main CX projects using a specific template that includes all the key elements, such as goals, purposes, dependencies, etc. You will map the main project stages and ensure to add a monthly status report and next steps, linking it to your tasks.
An example of a project could be to create, train and engage a group of CX champions internally who would execute CX initiatives over the next six months.
Do these two things every week
3. Weekly 1-1.5h progress & planning
This meeting is to set goals for the week by discussing what needs to be done, potential risks and first steps, as well as reviewing any tasks in progress. It is a good time to discuss the status, next best action, and any learnings from completed tasks. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of emotional empathy and engagement at this stage. You will only be successful if people feel excited going to these meetings, not forced to do the spreadsheets! We use it as an excellent team motivation tool, with team members having an opportunity to share concerns in a safely moderated environment and being praised for the achievements and quick wins.
For your project above, what are the first steps you need to discuss in your first weekly meeting in order to engage potential CX champions? This may be getting approval and commitment from their managers and conducting a set up workshop to engage them, define their roles & responsibilities and address concerns.
4. CX KPIs board
The CX KPIs board allows you to track how each of the tasks advances you to the overall project success and prompts to re-focus effort if needed. This is an excellent instrument for CX leaders to track how your tasks contribute towards achieving results in strategic CX projects. For your CX champion teams you would be looking for things like meeting attendance rate, engagement level and success rate for their projects.
These three things you should do every day
5. Fill in a task board
An online task board (Kanban board) is a single repository for all ideas that ensures nothing is lost in notebooks and coffee stained pieces of paper. It is visible to all team members ensuring full transparency and avoiding duplication. For maximum effectiveness CX leaders use a task board up to 5 times a day to capture all, even very minor tasks! The task board should be used in 15-minute morning briefings and weekly progress & planning. Does it sound a bit daunting? Just try to think about it as a habit of noting down all the tasks electronically, rather than in your notebook. You will use less paper too!
6. Use a template for setting tasks
In our CX Implementation Toolkit we always recommend using a specific template for setting tasks that ensures the task is aimed to achieve a specific result and everyone is clear as to why we are doing it, how and by when we shall expect the outcome.
A badly written task (that I often see coming out of CX maturity assessment sessions) would be to map customer journeys. You can make it into an effective one: Organise groups of five colleagues from Marketing, Service, Customer Experience, Finance and Distribution by 10th of June to map 3 priority customer journeys (X,Y,Z) that have the biggest impact on customer value.
A good tip is to ensure a task always starts with an action verb, has more than five words and will be as clear if revisited in 2 years’ time.
7. Conduct a daily 15-minute morning briefing
A morning briefing will help you gather all valuable ideas and understand any changes without disruption to the much-needed focus during the day. You will be able to eliminate instances of ‘This new product is totally going to rock, let’s discuss right now’ or ‘We should set up a fund for our contact centre agents for ‘gestures of goodwill’, let’s work on it once we have some time’ and ‘We wanted to interview that customer, but I thought it was due next week’.
A morning briefing is a quick review of what has been done yesterday, what is planned for today and any known obstacles.
By introducing the structure and the rigour of project management into your CX, you will combat uncertainty, ensure your projects fit in with the business strategy, and are supported by meaningful tasks that get executed quickly.