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How CX can drive Agile development

There's no need to label this Agile CX because that would confuse the whole purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that CX (and known techniques within the realm of understanding customer experience) can help teams about to embark on Agile development to focus on areas that matter and will deliver the most value to Customers.

That being said, Agile is already known to be relatively customer centric. The ability to shift based on feedback from customers is as customer centric as you can get in the development world. I wanted to demonstrate that with some known CX techniques, such as Journey Mapping, Agile teams can identify areas of potential improvement for their customers and design something of value.

For this article, I've also created a sample customer journey map to help illustrate this. And rather than doing a generic journey map, I've decided to create a map depicting the journey of a donor for a charity - the reason for this is I'm hoping that this will also help charities embarking on their own CX journey get some ideas on how to map their donors experience, and assist in their Agile development efforts.

​So, below is the sample of the customer journey, and read further for some insights into the map:

Firstly, let's quickly go through some of the elements of the journey map.

Snapshot (left pane): This is a place to provide context to the reader on some key data points / statistics to put the map into context. In this example, since it is about a donor / supporters experience with a charity in Australia, I've included some statistics on charities in Australia, including number of charities, state of individual contributions in Australia, etc. This gives the reader some context on what the map is going to convey.

Customer Journey: These are structured into customer stages, and in each stage there are key activities a customer would typically perform throughout the journey. Scattered through the map are Moments of Truth (MOT), points where customers would make a decision based on what they've experienced so far. In the donor example, there are 4 high level stages, a series of actions from the donor and there are questions a donor could ask as they go through the journey that would lead to either exiting the journey or proceeding to the next step.

Objective and Touchpoints: These are a collection of objectives the customer would like to achieve throughout the journey. The way they achieve their objective will result in an interaction with the organisation (as well as other touch points). In the donor journey, there are 15 key objectives and there are a series touchpoints a donor / supporter could engage to achieve their objective.

So, how could an Agile development team use the journey map to assist with their understanding of the customer and build something that matters to the user:

  • Each objective can be used to trigger an epic or a series of user stories: As demonstrated in donor experience example, Agile teams can then see that each objective as an epic or the start of a breakdown of multiple user stories. It can help categorise the epics, themes and high level user stories.

  • Each Moment of Truth can help identify Acceptance Criteria: Each time a customer reaches a Moment of Truth, they're deciding on what to do next. If the Agile development team can identify all the different possible behavioural actions a customer can take, it can inform them of the different points of measure (hence data capture) they need to implement, capture and monitor. There are a series of criteria that would result in either the customer proceeding or exiting the journey. In other words, the Agile team can see the acceptance criteria for the customer at each Moment of Truth.

  • Each customer action can be turned into a user story: In the example, each customer action has an identifier associated with it (that is due to our own data management and dashboarding). However, Agile teams can use these identifiers to assist with development of user stories, and the team can create sub-tasks to define the behaviour of systems for each customer action (where applicable).​

The importance of each objective can determine MVP: Each objective has a weighting associated with it - that is, some objectives weigh heavier than others. This will help teams determine which objective should be in MVP, and subsequently which associated actions would determine which user story is of priority.

There are other elements to the customer journey map missing in the example, and here's a list below (including how it would help with any Agile development team efforts):

  • Customer Sentiment: You can add customer sentiment in the map (we haven't as we don't have sufficient data to map this), where you visually represent the emotion customers experience throughout each stage. There are many ways to do this, but we recommend aligning it to the stages of the customer journey. For Agile teams, this can help with priotising which user stories to focus on.

  • Service Design: Often we see a lot of customer journey maps without the inner working of the organisation delivering that value to customers - when I work with clients, usually we add in a service design layer below the customer journey. This helps our clients identify which services deliver the greatest value to customers as well as identify which services can be tweaked to provide a better customer experience. This may translate to a better digital offering, providing Agile teams better focus.

  • Internal Pain Points: Another element we would also include is the internal pain points (usually aligned to the Service Design) to highlight where employees are experiencing issues that would impact the way they deliver value to the customers. Agile teams can look at these and ensure that what they build for internal consumption meet user requirements and still deliver the best experience for Customers.

  • Customer Data Points: This is important to provide even more detailed contextual information about Customer behaviour throughout the journey. Although this map doesn't have specific data sets, it does have recommended data points to consider.

CX, in this case using a well known tool such as Customer Journey Mapping, can help Agile teams focus on what is important for the customers, and provide the organisation as a whole a better appreciation of their customers journey. Coupled with other techniques and approaches such as Service Design and User Experience, CX can help guide and provide context into the voice of the customer, all aligned to achieve customer centricity in an organisation.

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