Article

Agile leadership for CX organisations

By Michael Schweidler, Senior Marketing Manager, EMEA

Published September 21, 2021
Last updated October 7, 2021

If the past year has taught us anything it’s that change can happen extremely fast. COVID-19 certainly amplified just how volatile the market can be and how quickly customer preferences can change. For CX organisations, the pressure is certainly on to not only respond and adapt to such changes more quickly in the future, but do so while also delivering incredible customer experiences.

One key to achieving this is through agility. Once the domain of a few pioneering companies agility transformations have increasingly become mainstream over the last years. According to a survey carried out by McKinsey, highly successful agile transformations result in a 30% increase in customer satisfaction and help boost performance by making the organisation five to ten times faster. Adopting an agile operating model also showed up as a competitive advantage.

But what does an agile organisation look like? As McKinsey puts it, “The essence of an agile transformation is reimagining the organisation as a network of empowered, high-performing teams that applies agile principles in its processes, structures and people development activities to increase competitiveness.”

With a stronger orientation around a shared vision, purpose and trust in teams, agile organisations require a new approach to leadership to succeed. These new leadership models often revolve around values-based leadership and distributed leadership. Value-based leadership involves leading the team and evaluating performance based on the organisation's set of values rather than specific metrics and milestones. In a distributed leadership model, responsibilities and accountability are shared by a network of individuals with relevant knowledge and expertise rather than resting with just one person.

To help pilot their way to scaled agility, CX leaders need to foster an agile leadership culture now. Here are seven principles to help you prepare your organisation for agility.

  1. Prioritise and empower strong teams. With high-performing teams being key to agile organisations, create a dynamic environment that encourages interactive problem-solving and empowers employees with easy-to-use-tools that help enhance processes and drive collaboration. With responsibilities and accountability shared in these organisations, you should build coaching into your team interactions to help show direction and enable action.
  2. Organisational learning. With its focus on dynamic teams, agile organisations foster an ethical and organisational learning culture where learning initiatives are encouraged. Such a distributed leadership model enables you and your team to all contribute to the quality of thinking throughout the organisation. In turn, this helps develop employees’ soft skills.
  3. Constantly learn and adapt. Insights gained from organisational learning can help drive the changes that will improve your productivity and customer service - from adding new channels, pushing more customers to self-service or changing your staffing model. Focus on building out workflows that can increase quality, transparency and control, and keep a pulse on evolving trends, such as AI and machine learning, to help power smarter business.
  4. Be customer centric. Ensure that customers have the highest quality of support with better service workflows, business rules and a comprehensive knowledge base. Build in flexibility for fast pivots and alternative scenarios. Focus on the entire experience with a unified view of the customer with all the right data to hand as this will not only lead to better customer outcomes but more productive agents. And listen to what customers want by creating ways for them to share feedback, which will lead to valuable improvement opportunities.
  5. Focus on speed to market and scalability of tech investments. Invest in flexible technology that not only supports CX goals but is easy to integrate and allows for scaling. Take advantage of open technology, which is inherently built for innovation and scale, and make this part of your requirements early so as to avoid taking on time-consuming costly projects later.
  6. Make data your guide. The future of CX lies in breaking down silos and integrating CX data across the business. Focusing on data and KPIs allows data from the CX team to flow to other teams like marketing and operations, and vice versa. This holistic, unified view of the customer trends will make it easier to spot and fix problems across your products and service. Ultimately, having the right data means better customer outcomes and more productive agents.
  7. Create processes that drive both collaboration and simplification. This is crucial to successfully manage multiple agents and their unique skill sets whilst also driving both collaboration. But simplification also requires adaptable processes. A complicated workflow will lead to less efficient agents, higher support costs and low customer satisfaction ratings. On the other hand, tools like advanced workflow capabilities and a unified view of the customer will ensure that agents have all the knowledge needed to solve problems rapidly and satisfactorily.
  8. Embracing agile principles has many advantages, such as being better equipped to deal with volatility in the market and being better able to understand and respond to customer preferences. Perhaps most importantly, it can accelerate innovation and transform the working environment by forging teams that drive change and value creation. But agility is not a one-time event, it’s an ongoing step change and it’s time to get onboard now.

Shaping an agile culture

One of the most common reasons that technological transformation doesn’t yield the expected returns has nothing to do with the tech itself. It’s down to culture. To make the best use of AI, automation and other tools, teams and individuals must be able to adapt, to work in new ways and to change how they work as need arises. In short, they need to learn to be agile