How To Create Agile Customer-Centric Teams

Building a better experience for customers often starts internally by creating a customer-centric culture and strong teams. And for many successful companies, those teams are transitioning to become more agile.

Agile is a buzzword often thrown around with teams. According to Sarah Elk, author of the new book Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, there’s a difference between companies that do agile well and companies that don’t do it properly and end up with more issues than before. What does it mean to be agile? It’s a way of organizing and running teams that helps them pivot quickly, test ideas quickly and stay in tune with customers. Agile teams are focused on innovation and experimenting with new ideas with a strong feedback loop.

When done right, agile teams are completely customer-focused and can make a huge impact in strengthening relationships and creating high-quality customer experiences. One thing to remember is that agile teams are a tool, not a strategy. Successful companies have a purpose and a strategy to achieve that purpose. Agile is a tool or methodology to help companies be more efficient and customer-focused, but it isn’t the entire strategy.

Author Elk says agile’s role is essential to customer experience because it puts the customer at the heart of everything the team does. When done correctly, multiple agile teams in the organization are focused on innovating different aspects of the customer experience. One agile team could be working on customer solutions, another on adapting technology systems and another on improving communication. Each team is testing new ideas to find what will work best for customers. Each team has its own agile focus, but they all work together to deliver something different and relevant to customers.

Many companies are moving enthusiastically to agile teams, but the entire company shouldn’t be agile. Hierarchical structure and traditional teams are essential to keeping the business running with routine operations. Agile and bureaucracy are complements to each other and balance each other out to keep the business moving forward while also finding new solutions to improve the customer experience.

Successful, customer-centric agile teams start with strong leadership and culture. In an agile world, the customer dictates the right answer because teams are testing and learning. Leaders often need to step aside and let agile teams work so that customers can speak for themselves. Elk says the most critical piece of an agile team is the feedback loop. Teams need to be constantly in contact with customers and learning from and applying their feedback.

Agile teams have incredible potential to change customer experience and create relevant and innovative interactions with customers. Elk says that at the end of the day, agile is about hope and optimistically looking towards the future. Agile’s goal is to make a business better and should create a fun journey—for both employees and customers.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

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Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

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