How to Use Agile to Deliver Customer Success

It’s no secret that Agile has been put to great use by your product and engineering teams. It’s a tried and true methodology; but did you know that it can also be used to deliver an amazing Customer Success strategy?

My Experience

About 12 years ago, I joined a strategic and seemingly straightforward initiative to build the next “thing” that our customers wanted.

As a part of our research we spoke with a number of our largest prospective customers. Each conversation held a common theme: Our prospects were not looking for an augmentation of our existing offering. They wanted a completely new way to interact with their customers.

We weren’t prepared for that.

To deliver what our customers told us they wanted, we were going to have to do far more than we originally planned. We knew that with a small team and a big problem, we were going to have to approach things in a highly targeted fashion.

We tested the Agile methodology, and it worked!

The Agile Difference

With the team using a targeted and disciplined project plan, we were amazed at what we accomplished:

  • All our requirements were documented. Even better, we had them organized and broken down into tasks with time frames that our developers could manage.
  • We had a release plan. We knew what we could deliver based on our target go-to-market date.
  • We even had a new iterative approach to deployment. We had a new way of iteratively building our offering that got the customer rapid time to value despite a massive scope.
  • We had a working prototype! And we could duplicate the process with future projects

Why It Worked

So, if Agile isn’t a silver bullet, how did it help us to do so much in so short of a time?

To start, you’ll want to understand the underlying idea behind Agile. Have a look at the Agile Manifesto and the Principles behind it.

Agile puts the following principles to good use:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

To sum it all up, the highest priority is to do what works so that you create software that satisfies the customer.

The Agile principles enabled us to make a small team into a powerhouse of productivity. We were focused and delivered value to the customer.

It’s through this experience I discovered that Agile can be applied to Customer Success.

Agile and Customer Success

We’ve worked with hundreds of Customer Success professionals to help them to discover the right methods to deploy various Customer Success programs and operations. In almost every case, we found a common set of blockers:

  • Ability to drive execution
  • Constantly moving priorities
  • Team/Departmental Silos
  • Demonstrated progress against improvement goals
  • Remaining customer centric
  • Sustaining the break-neck pace of Customer Success

In every case we took an Agile approach to improving the operations of Customer Success at a company, our customer’s outcome was positive.

Why?

Because one of the biggest challenges that most faced was not in finding a solution to a single challenge it was determining a way to continue to move forward in an organized fashion despite all of the drag of day-to-day operations.

The Way Forward is Agile

Despite the massive amount of material written on delivering Customer Success, there’s still no unifying framework that provides Customer Success teams with a sustainable path forward.

Agile gives us a pragmatic solution that addresses both the strategic and the day-to-day level needs of a growing Customer Success program and team.

The Agile Manifesto Reimagined for Customer Success

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