Customer Success | 7 MIN READ

Agile in Customer Success

Customer success needs agile methodology more than any other function due to constantly being in touch with clients and having multiple moving parts.

Shoeb Ahmed
Shoeb Ahmed
Mar 18, 2021

Agile-Customer-Success

Agile Customer Success

Working in software projects often becomes clumsy when there are a lot of processes involved that include following the development lifecycle, heavy dependency on cross-functional collaboration and adapting to the customer’s evolving demands. Agile methodology has been introduced to meet such challenges and have been widely adopted by software companies. And when it comes to customer success, Agile framework is equally beneficial. Let’s see how.

What is Agile methodology?

In software development, agile practices are followed to streamline the process and produce better quality deliverables. Its main characteristics are:

  1. Self-organizing teams: Resource allocation based on current requirements of the project and assigning/reassigning the members as per the need.
  2. Cross-functional teams: Collaborating with teams from different functions as and when needed without the permanent allocation for the whole project.
  3. Evolutionary development: Instead of following the traditional waterfall model of development, work follows an evolutionary approach where small chunks are delivered to the customer that go through multiple iterations.
  4. Short feedback loop: Due to smaller deliverables, the feedback obtained from the customers are short and nimble. Hence, the corrections can be made instantaneously instead of waiting for the whole project to complete.
  5. Incremental development: Each chunk of the project is developed, tested and demonstrated to the stakeholders to get approval. Then the team moves on to the next deliverable. This way, the smaller chunks are allowed to fail and be corrected on the go rather than a drastic failure of the whole software in the final release.

All in all, an agile framework is used for faster development, minimal errors and efficient development of the project.

Why Customer Success requires Agile?

Agile is much more relevant in customer success than any other function. Customer success involves multiple moving parts. When agile is introduced in this function, it makes it more suitable for multiple stakeholders involved in this function.

Product team

Through agile customer success, the product team can collaborate with customer success and act upon customer’s feedback. Customers provide more important feedback on the product than anyone else. Hence, product team can evolve their features, adjust their roadmap and prioritize their deliverables through customer success agile framework.

Marketing team

Marketing team also needs regular information about what customers need and want. They can adjust their marketing campaigns based on the customer success opinions. Marketing teams do not have to wait to see their results until after they launch their campaigns. Based on live feedback from the current customers, they can improvise their campaigns and make adjustments accordingly for reaping better outcomes.

Customer Success Operations

Customer success operations can also work best when they act according to the agile framework. They can work on specific deliverables based on current customer’s requirements. An agile mindset would allow them to serve customers right where they are. Through customer intelligence, they can know what works for their business and what would lead them towards becoming a more customer centric brand.

How to Prepare for Agile Implementation CS

Agile implementation on Customer Success requires a bit of preparation that include:

  1. Requirement Documentation
  2. Resource allocation
  3. Clear communication of goals and expectations to the team
  4. Having proper technology in-place for customer listening & engagement
  5. Having clear plan on governance & decision making              
  6. Define how to measure the success                
  7. Agile execution plan    

Requirement Documentation

A clear documentation of the requirement is must to begin with. Your business analyst must hold rigorous meetings with the clients to find out what exactly they need. Oftentimes, clients do not know what they need until you show them. It is the job of your BA or CSM to discover the customer’s pain points and propose them with the solution that might work for them. On approval, you must document such requirements.

Resource allocation

For agile framework, a dynamic resource allocation plan is must. A technical implementation specialist must be required only when there’s a tech-heavy integration needed with the customer’s environment during onboarding. Rest of the time, they might be allocated to another project. Likewise, all the members of the team must be allocated as and when required.

Clear communication of the goals

Each team member should have a precise understanding of their role and the goals they are trying to achieve. Although it might not be possible to explain everyone about the holistic picture of the solution they are building, yet, the solution must be divided into smaller goals to be achieved within specific timeframes and must be communicated to each member.

Technology for customer listening and engagement

Customer listening is an important aspect of customer success. And to make it agile-savvy, you need to have it live. Hence, a proper customer success software that gives you the capability of real-time monitoring of the customer’s usage of your product is must. Through this, you can keep track of what is working and what is not for the solutions you provide to the customer. As per the agile methodology, you can take immediate steps for driving customer engagement if things are not going as per the plan.

Having clear plan on governance & decision making

This point is self-explanatory. For agile customer success, you need to have a clear plan on how you would be helping your customer achieve their goals. This plan must be shared with the clients during the initial meetings and also across your team. What decisions you would make based on various parameters should also be in place for yourself to refer from time to time.

Defining success

How would you track your progress? What metrics would you be considering as growth indicator? What milestones would you be covering in your customer journey? Define them all in the beginning itself. And to make it agile, you must revisit them from time to time and make amendments as and when needed. E.g. you could not have seen the customer’s problems in advance while defining success. But you can always consider them as small successes as and when you resolve them.

Agile execution plan

Finally, you need an agile execution plan. What resources are needed, for how long and at what point? What goals are you trying to achieve? On what parameters you would improvise your plan? What deliverables would you provide to your customers? When would you do it? What expectations does your customer have? How much of your solution is worthy enough for them? All these questions must be answered in an agile execution plan and must be improvised as and when needed.

Wrap Up

Customer success needs agile methodology more than any other function due to constantly being in touch with clients and having multiple moving parts. You cannot rely on a fixed static plan that would work for months or years. Your customers are growing and so are their needs and expectations. Hence, to keep up with the pace, an agile customer success framework could go a long way to help you serve your customers better.

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Originally Published March 18th, 2021, Updated March 18th, 2021

Shoeb Ahmed

Shoeb Ahmed

Shoeb lives and breathes Customer Success and SaaS. He has a passion to research on the latest innovations happening in SaaS and Customer Success. Shoeb hails from a Software Architecture background where he worked for many years with Indian Tech Giants like Wipro and ITC building software solutions for their MNC clients in the UK and Denmark.

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