Reflecting on the Agile revolution
Back in the days when I was a savvy software group leader (seems like a distant memory now…) I too was drawn magnetically to the Agile revolution which swapped the software world in the early 2000's. The Agile concepts revolutionized the way software is created, by throwing away the stone-aged design \ code \ test waterfall concepts and bringing in a refreshing radical approach which bases itself on continuous change with immediate feedback loop between designing, coding and testing. Moreover, this revolution also empowered software engineers to take on a holistic perspective on the code they write, involving each individual in the entire cycle of development from customer requirements to end product testing.
Sounds familiar?... rightfully so. In recent years, Agile concepts have made their way from the software world to the Enterprise operations domain, making organizations more flexible, faster to react to change and as importantly- empower their employees to better fulfill their full individual potential.
Adopting Agile concepts into Enterprise operations
If you are an Enterprise operations manager (Retail, Contact Center, Digital Channels or other) who's new to operational Agile concepts, no worries! Let me provide you with some insights on the basic characteristics of the Agile approach:
First, Agility means adopting the notion of "Embrace Change". Whether we like it or not, our organization needs to continuously adopt itself to changing customer needs, business needs, technology constraints etc. Organizations which do not change, eventually fall behind competition which does. How often should we change, you ask? As often as you can! This is a basic principle in Agile methodology.
Second, Agility brings to life the concept of "One Team", asking each operational team member to have a wide perspective on his tasks and actions in the context of the overall operation. Such perspective enables operational teams to better strive to their common goals, achieving faster and higher quality results.
Third, Agility calls for continuous feedback between the different flows \ steps of the operation to assure that all nuts and bolts operate smoothly together. Feedback means that when a task is handed over by one team member to another or an output \ service is provided to a customer, the implication of one employee's actions on his siblings is visible to him such that individual errors and flaws within processes can be addressed immediately.
There are plenty more concepts and techniques to Agility, but the basic three presented above should provide sufficient food for thought for now.
How VoC programs serve as agility drivers
So, What does Agility have to do with Voice of the Customer? Everything!
I believe that a VoC Program can and should be the flag bearer of operational agility within the Enterprise. Your VoC program enables you to Embrace Change by being highly tuned to your customer needs, which should be propagated to you strongly by your VoC platform (I sure hope you have one by now…). It enables you to quickly react to customer needs by continuously making adjustments to processes and flows while getting immediate feedback from your customers on your implemented changes. Also, by using an advanced VoC platform, your Enterprise can drop the long and demanding design process when implementing a change. Changes can be made within multiple "Baby-Steps", leveraging the continuous feedback \ directive provided by customers. i.e.- if you've done something wrong, not to worry- you'll know out about it immediately and have a chance to re-adjust. If you've done something right- keep going!
Furthermore, advanced VoC platforms enable individual employees to get direct customer perspective on their personal actions, as well as to see their personal impact on the overall team results. Broken processes can be identified and handled this way in the individual, team and group level. Also, think about how this impacts employee engagement…
A real-life example
Implementing multiple VoC programs in multiple verticals (Retail Banking, Telecoms, Insurance, Consumer Retailers and more) through the past years has provided me numerous examples of how VoC drives Agility within an Enterprise. One prominent example is of a large Credit Card issuer which has rolled out a few years ago a VoC program to cover the operation of their multiple Contact Centers across the globe. Soon after launch, the masses of data provided by the VoC platform drove the Enterprise to initiate changes to processes, many of them empowering their employees to take wider range of decisions and responsibility over customer satisfaction during their service calls. Process changes have become a second nature to the operation of this corporate, making dozens of Baby-Steps process adjustment every quarter, fine tuning their service, rapidly adjusting to their customer's needs, providing better service and eventually winning the hearts and minds of their customer and employees alike.
VoC programs, supported by advanced VoC platforms together with solution knowhow, prove to be a very effective tool for Agile transformation of Enterprises. Leveraging its unique capability to continuously connect the Enterprise operation to its customer's, the VoC program drives the operation to change and adopt to customer needs. It drives change on all fronts, from individual employees all the way to top level management.
Have you experienced such change in your organization? Let me know, I'm eager to get your perspective!