Fran Aries is an account director at Rawnet. This article originally appeared in The Drum.
Here Fran takes a look at how to remain Agile and take change management principals and ensue they operate focused on the customer experience. We at Thought Patrol are wedded to Agile being the solution to creating and maintaining adaptability. In a dynamic environment it’s only the fast focused and flexible that get to thrive, or maybe even just survive.
Business leaders know that their organisations should embrace change. They know the potential risks associated with standing still, especially as we shift into the ‘age of the customer’. However, actually driving change is hard. The four areas below are essential to any transformation programme:
There is no end result - keep moving
In order to move rapidly and remain flexible, digital should by now, be ingrained in your entire business and definitely key to your marketing strategy. Digital is the only platform that can give you access to your customers 24/7 anywhere in the world, with full transparency on what is working and what isn’t in real time.
However, your digital platform and channels are only ever as good as the day they were built. Digital moves so quickly that even between briefing a project and delivery, there can be significant changes that would benefit the endresult. I crossed through the word end because there is no such thing as the ‘end’ result anymore.
To produce a scalable and flexible digital strategy that keeps up with your business needs and more importantly your customer’s expectations, you need to keep changing, keep adapting and evolving your products and services, i.e. learn how to innovate effectively.
Your customers have to be at the centre of every decision you make
Improving the customer experience (CX) is the primary goal for modern marketers. But what exactly does CX mean?
Unlike many acronyms in the world of digital, CX is actually a useful one to know! Matt Watkinson’s definition is my favourite: “CX is the qualitative aspect of any interaction that an individual has with a business, its products or services, at any point in time.”
CX should form part of any strategic business, digital, marketing or innovation plans. Putting customers firmly at the heart of your business will mean that everything you do is optimised for the very people you seek to serve, the buyers.
You should have a set of guiding CX principles that the entire business works toward at any given time. These principles will dictate how you engage with your audience, what content you need to create and steer your business decisions. The results include great customer service, increased brand advocacy and in turn positive increases to your bottom line.
Study the principles of agile
Agile was originally based on 12 principles outlined in a manifesto. Agile is a philosophy, a way of life, a mindset that originated to support software delivery. In its heyday, it was a groundbreaking way of thinking and a decent approach to software development. But, this was back in the 90’s, when it was devised by a group of friends on a skiing trip.
Although the original ethos may be the same, it’s no longer the same methodology and processes that matter, agile has evolved. Complex ways of working have been developed and layered on top of the 12 principles. This has enabled development houses to gain more flexibility by adapting processes to fit their own principles and projects.
An agile project traditionally is run using methodologies such as Kanban, Scrum or Lean, however, within the ever-evolving world of development, new ways are emerging for delivering projects successfully. This could be a combination of two or more methodologies, think along the lines of a Scrumban or even a Scrumfallprocess, which in the 90’s or 00’s would have been dismissed on the spot. Development houses now embrace change to allow for the creation of competitive advantage for their clients.
You can learn from the processes and mindset of an agile development team and apply the same principles to business, digital and marketing strategy. Embracing failure will increase innovation and creativity across the business. By ideating, prototyping and testing in an agile manner, you can quickly determine what works and what doesn’t. You shouldn’t be afraid to cancel or throw out an idea if it isn’t working, despite the number of hours that have gone into it. There are no failures, only successes and lessons.
Measure everything against core business objectives
As previously mentioned, having set objectives is an absolute must. Companies should have a purpose, that all their efforts should align to. When your activity is paired with your brand ethos and is filtered down consistently into your communications strategy and project KPIs, it can only strengthen buy-in from your team and create an even stronger bond with your brand proposition.
These objectives should be standardised within your business, at least, to ensure they are measurable and realistic. The IPA categorised sensible business objectives that every brand should consider when setting KPIs across the business.
- Sales value gain
- Sales volume gain
- Profit gain
- Market share gain
- Defend market share
- Develop new market
- Revitalise existing market
- Reduction of price sensitivity
- Customer acquisition
- Customer retention
- Support trade
- Drive web traffic
- Change attitudes
The categories can be treated as Epics (from our agile example) and expanded upon to define specific KPIs and soft objectives for individuals, projects and marketing.
All goals should be reported upon on a monthly basis with overall strategy and direction being reviewed on a quarterly basis. Adapting to the changes that your audience or industry landscape dictates is an essential requirement for success. If you can plan to be flexible enough to be ahead of the change curve, you will reap the rewards of market share.