As an organisation, it is important to have processes and established ways of doing things to guide employees. Failure to have processes will increase operational costs and waste, and the business is at risk of missing customer deadlines leading to unsatisfied customers. In addition to the importance of processes, it has become necessary for organisations to have an Agile Mindset.
What does it mean to have an Agile Mindset, and how can it be used to transform your customer experience journey?
An Agile Mindset is a set of attitudes, ethos and behaviours that makes a team high-performing, optimally productive and deliver excellent results. It is a thought process that requires flexibility, adaptability to change, respect, continuous learning, and synergy to achieve an impressive result. An Agile Mindset is aimed at improving productivity and customer satisfaction.
What are the qualities that are peculiar to the Agile Mindset?
Respect: With an Agile Mindset, a business can show respect and diversity of thoughts among its team members, promoting innovation. The organisation moves towards a flat organisational structure where every team member is treated equally and free to share their knowledge and ideas. For example, it will not matter what the level of a team member is to be able to make contributions or proffer recommendations to improve existing processes. Similarly, there will be no bullying to discourage team members from airing their views. Every member of the team feels empowered.
Flexibility: The only thing constant in life is change, says Heraclitus. Globally, technology has transformed our lives and has brought about rapid changes. According to World Economic Forum, over the last 20 years, technology has rapidly changed major sectors, namely media and communications, clean tech and sustainable projects, biotechnology and health care, among others. The effect of the change is that new businesses have emerged, and businesses that cannot adapt to change have phased out of the market. An Agile Mindset ensures that businesses are flexible to changes and ready to move with trends or emerging ideas within the industry to maintain competitiveness and increase market share.
Learning: Continuous learning among employees is also a key quality of an Agile Mindset. Employees are engaged in constant learning and are self-motivated to acquire knowledge. With learning comes innovation and creativity.
Collaboration: The Agile Mindset stimulates synergy and high team spirit toward achieving great results. An Agile Mindset supports an agile environment, and an agile environment supports growth.
COVID-19 showed the need to develop agile resilience. Like any other turbulent event, businesses have learned to navigate through challenging and fast-changing times. For example, decision-making became faster, bureaucracy became less important, businesses designed alternative plans to their existing processes, resources were reallocated to meet new priorities, and businesses designed new ways to achieve the same purpose. In addition, businesses appreciated the need to be less hierarchical as top management executives closely engaged with team leads.
An Agile Mindset also led to a shift to a work-from-home model and a hybrid work structure. Post-COVID-19, organisations have learnt how employees can be very productive by working from home and anywhere in the world. Again, flexible work hour has been promoted. It has become necessary to improve the productivity and wellness of employees through flexible work hours. Happy employees improve customer satisfaction.
Why is it important to have an Agile Mindset?
The world is constantly changing, and so are business trends, customer demands and technology. It is usually difficult to embrace change, but businesses cannot avoid it. With an Agile Mindset, organisations can respond quickly and easily to changes and meet customers’ demands. Also, the business will open itself up to new opportunities.
An Agile Mindset encourages collaboration which consequently fosters customer satisfaction and happiness. In the words of Brandon Hartness, “Customers do not desire firms that market to them. They want firms that collaborate with them by establishing connections and building sustainable relationships”. Collaboration strengthens proactiveness and ensures that a business stays ahead of the curve. There has been a shift from the view that businesses create value and clients consume it, and clients now believe that value is co-created through collaboration.
Employees enjoy working when they are respected, heard and empowered. An Agile Mindset facilitates the empowerment of employees. There is a diversity of thoughts, knowledge sharing, increased productivity and innovation.
Ways to develop an Agile Mindset and leverage it to improve customer satisfaction
- Create an environment that supports innovation: Innovation is at the core of developing an Agile Mindset. Team members should be encouraged and supported to be innovative rather than blindly follow rigid plans. For instance, when a team member knows a better and more effective approach to doing things, the better approach should be considered.
- Have a mechanism that promotes openness: It is imperative to have a structure that facilitates feedback and communication from the team members and customers. In a product development lifecycle, the organisation should encourage feedback from its employees as well as the customers it serves.
- Collaborate with customers to enhance their satisfaction: Collaboration involves brainstorming with customers to generate information and involving them in shared decision-making. Collaboration involves consulting with clients in all questions of doubt, keeping clients in the loop and responding expeditiously to clients’ requests. Information is a powerful tool for clients; collaboration will bridge the gap between organisations and their clients.
- Be adaptable to changes: Uncertainties, change and disruptions have become a norm in the business environment. We have taken cues from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the rise of impact investing, technology, recession, and changing consumer behaviour, among others. Unlocking an Agile Mindset requires businesses to understand market trends and development locally and globally and adapt them to meet emerging demands.
- Focus on the customers: Businesses were established to meet customers’ needs. Before customers can buy a good or service, they must be certain that the product or service will serve their needs. Hence, a business must prioritise its customers. Leveraging an Agile Mindset will mean that customers’ feedback, demands and recommendations are integrated into business processes. Therefore, businesses must regularly engage customers through surveys, interviews and good customer care. All of these are aimed at improving customer satisfaction.
Barclays Bank is an example of a company that successfully leveraged an Agile Mindset using an approach called Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) & Agile Coaching. This involved a firm-wide strategy providing coaching to teams, enabling them to simplify their process decisions and enhance productivity. The work environment also moved from being individualistic to being collaborative. This resulted in a 300% increase in the amount of work done, a 50% reduction in code complexity on 80 apps and a test code coverage of about 50%. Eight hundred teams at Barclays Bank have successfully adopted an Agile approach. The teams have also recorded increased happiness, a faster process of launching new products, and greater adaptability, all of which empowered the team to improve their response to feedback or changes. With an Agile Mindset, Barclays Bank also improved its customer retention rate.
Leveraging an Agile Mindset to meet changing customer demands and improve satisfaction is a shift in organisational culture, which takes time and resources. Getting the right training and support is important to make the transition seamless and sustainable.