Lisa is doing wonders at a B2B e-commerce system. She supports developers to connect to the company customers, helps product owners make decisions for the product roadmap and bring out the best in the customer support team.

Who is Lisa? She is fictional, but she brings a company together to deliver the best experience to their customers. Lisa is also called “Adva’s imaginary friend” because she is one of the personas that Adva Bendov, product manager at Spryker, introduced to her team and the entire company.

In other words, the product manager understood how to make customer experience efforts fit into an agile practice. However, there are challenges involved in that process – and there is no one simple recipe you can follow to make it happen. But in there are three things you can start with:

1. Cultivate the virtuous Triade desirability – viability – feasibility    

The promise of agile is to bring value at speed. And in this case, value means both values for the customers and the business. To be valuable, a product or a service – whether digital or physical – needs to meet customers’ needs, be viable for your business and obviously, it needs to be feasible, given the available technology.

This requires a joint effort in which experience designers and researchers uncover customers’ needs and help teams understand them; engineers find the best technical solutions given that understanding; and product owners take better decisions to achieve business goals, balancing customers’ needs and technical efforts.

While this might sound cliché, many teams still miss out on one of those elements. Get your practice in check: are you so focused on speed that you do not take the time to verify you are building the right thing? You might go fast… but it won’t last.        

2. Identify silos and start building bridges

An image showing a team working on CX innovation and agility.

Designers complain about developers “making changes to what was delivered”, and developers complain about designers “creating things impossible to implement”. Does that sound familiar? Those mirror complaints are signalling your teams are working in silos rather than collaborating effectively.

Gauge your practice to identify what stands in the way and experiment with potential solutions together. You could, for example, involve engineers in discovery research. By observing in-depth user research, they will understand your design decisions better and can provide valuable technical inputs during ideation. Or you could bring stakeholders to early prototype testing sessions so they can understand the value of learning that comes with collecting early feedback and course-correcting.

3. Bring the customer into your agile practice

When agile teams get stuck into a tunnel vision that only looks at new features to implement, they lose track of the big picture. CX and design leaders have a critical role in helping those teams keep sight of why they are building what they are building and reconnecting them with the customer.

Making personas the acting subject of user stories is a small change that can be very effective. A functionally or piece of content is generally created to serve the needs of some customers. If those are already represented by a set of personas, why not use the personas?

By changing the impersonal “as a user, I want to…” into a more personal way, naming your existing persona “as Aaron I want to…”, you keep the connection to the customer vivid. And when new team members join, asking “Who is Aaron” (or Lisa), they can connect the dots between user stories and customers’ understanding and feel that what they are developing is not built on thin air or assumptions only.

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