Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Agile Customer Service

By Gail Meintjies

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

When it comes to serving customers, these projects need to start with the consumer needs and work back to the technology and software that should be in place to cater to these needs.

In conjunction with this, any organization needs to understand its DNA and adopt a passionate customer-centric approach throughout, to gain customer buy-in.

Creating Agile Customer Care

By focusing from the outside in, working with collaborative teams, and adopting an Agile project management approach, organizations can use Agile customer care to:

  • Achieve fewer break downs;
  • Boost first contact resolution;
  • Assist customers to help themselves find solutions to simple problems;
  • Streamline processes and software to suit the customer rather than stick to legacy systems.
One of the most important aspects of new age project management is to ensure Agile distribution. According to Accenture, the five main characteristics of Agile distribution are:
  • Offering customers what they need, not what the business has. This is done by personalizing products and services;
  • Replacing complex distribution processes and continually adjusting offerings as the market dictates;
  • Transforming fixed costs, such as paying rent, into variable costs and investing savings into revenue-generating opportunities, such as purchasing start-ups;
  • Combining physical and digital channels to gain more market share;
  • Making channel decisions quickly and often, based on customer needs and market demands.
It is imperative that organizations move outside their usual social media circles in the digital distribution playing field, and come up with unique initiatives to grow their consumer base.

An Agile Workforce

Organizations lose billions by investing in digital solutions that are not accepted by employees or customers. Ingenious solutions and marketing ideas that are aligned to actual customer demands, are nothing, without the buy-in of employees. The Agile teams in place need to hold skills and traits such as:
  • Collaboration
  • Effective and efficient communication
  • Fast execution
  • Flexibility
  • Discipline
  • Taking accountability and responsibility
SCRUM masters need to be leading their teams by placing their focus on becoming the best they can be, while Agile coaches must be in place to help the teams that need to apply the Agile practices, do so effectively. They need to be there to review what has gone well and what needs more work, and to get the support of employees’ managers.

This can be done with the help of the product owners creating a compelling vision of the project, and communicating it to employees and their managers, to obtain that buy-in from the beginning.

HR need to step in and consistently explore ways in which to create an Agile growth strategy for the business and its employees.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, businesses need to attract employees who go after innovative opportunities passionately instead of sticking to what they know.

One thing is clear – customer centricity should be engrained in a business’ culture from the very beginning, and the right teams should be employed to move the business forward.

Organizations lose billions by investing in digital solutions that are not accepted by employees or customers.

Building Agility for the Customer

By definition, Agile is an iterative development methodology that values human communication and feedback, adapts to changes, and produces working results.

By incorporating working software, and using customer data analysis and collaboration effectively, Agile businesses can stay ahead of their competition simply because they are catering to their customer’s needs.

However, despite the relevance of software making the user interaction simpler, it’s critical for organizations to realize the importance of the human interaction element throughout the Agile journey.

Software that is used to collect customer interaction data effectively, means that each consumer is met with a personalized approach. In some instances, software can be used to direct the customer requirement to a specific person or area within a business, providing consumers with the best advice they can get.

It's critical for organizations to remember the importance of the human interaction element throughout the Agile journey.

According to Brand Embassy (, a 2017 study shows that a staggering 70% of 18 – 24 year olds have stated that brands which fail to personalize their communication and interactions, will lose them as a customer.

Personally having 12 years’ experience in the banking industry, Accenture’s view that retail banks are in a fortunate position to be ahead in the Agile approach, makes sense to me.

Unlike digital-only or physical-only (think online stores and retail stores without online distribution means), retail banks have both a digital and physical presence. Digital platforms such as self-service banking where a client can open an account online, make payments, and get feedback on simple solutions; are already in place. At the same time, customers can visit physical branches. In using both platforms, branches may need to revamp their approach, but are fortunate to not have to build from the bottom.

The more prominent banks have a large amount of customer data at their fingertips which allows the testing of real-world scenarios. This creates the space for banks to define the markets, products and customers they wish to target; even creating personas in the marketing space.

Banks can purchase start-up capabilities or invest in integrating white-labels into their value chains, and in so doing, cater for the fast-paced market changes.
It’s important to realize that organizations should seek Agility in customer service not only by being Agile in one area, but by adopting a multi-dimensional approach.

By having a very personal, in-depth understanding of customers; embedding a customer-centric culture; and investing in and empowering team players to be innovative; organizations will continue to move forward.
Gail Meintjies is a skilled Customer Service professional, offering 12 years’ dedicated experience in the banking industry and 4 years’ earlier experience in journalism. Her background is rich in mentorship, coaching and training, and the consistent delivery of exceptional customer service.

Committed to process improvement, and possessing excellent problem solving skills, Gail has the inherent ability to identify situational needs and provide rational and intelligent solutions. Her exceptional organisational skills, attention to detail, and self-motivation, enable Gail to manage multi-levelled workloads with diligence and focused precision. 

Connect: LinkedIn


1 comment:

  1. Nice Post. I appreciate the way you have described about customer service in this article. Thanks and keep it up.

    Call Center Campaigns Provider