December 3rd: Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
Like most things, how you see something is a matter of perspective. The lens that you look through is shaped by experience, environment, who you’re influenced by and the attitude you take towards life and the given topic in particular.
Applying a customer-centric lens to branding, product development and marketing seems like an obvious thing to do, however, it wasn’t until the 1960s when Lester Wunderman urged companies to do so. Moreover, it wasn’t until the turn of the last century when customers took control with their collective new ability to dictate a brand’s narrative via the internet and dawn of social media. So, this concept of customer-centricity, in practice, is actually a modern way of thinking.
“Agile Value #3: customer collaboration over contract negotiation” is an example of a customer-centric approach. However, the core component of the directive is essentially the same. It’s all about communication.
That doesn’t mean unilateral outreach where you as the brand are sending messages, postcards, coupons or holiday catalogues. What it does mean is creating a forum for open dialogue in the spirit of true communication where conversations are bilateral. Doing so ensures that pain points can be discussed until they are understood and then resolved.
As agile product developers, the responsibility of maintaining a health dialogue with our customers is up to us. All too often, I have heard software engineers citing that communication with a client is the responsibility of the sales and marketing team. Not so!
We’re the people who are typically onsite with the customer. It is up to us as the agile craftsmen to deliver our best work to our clients so that their light can shine brightly. Clients look to us as their trusted advisors who are there to help them meet their needs, deliver quality work on time and help ensure our client’s success with their customers. Losing sight of the value of wearing a customer-centric lens compromises our ability to deliver our best for our clients. As soon as we we make it about ourselves and not our clients, the work environment will become more challenging and potentially even toxic.
The concept of collaboration over contract negotiations delineates the difference of being regarded as a vendor versus as a partner. Here at InRhythm, we know which side we aim to be on. Approaching software engineering with agile methodology requires that we are constantly communicating with our clients, assessing their needs and anticipating their needs even before our clients realize that things have shifted.
This brings us back to perspective. If we communicate regularly, with transparency, and deliver quality work in a timely manner, our clients will view us with the lens of partnership. Conversely, if we view our clients with the lens of a signed contract and the dollars tied to it, our perspective will be tarnished. As software engineers, we will struggle to deliver our work with that passion and quality that is required to fulfill the demands of an agile effort.
Agile Value #3 is the reminder for all of us that the lens that we view our work with is critically important. Viewing our deliverables and efforts with a client-centric perspective will positively impact how they view us. And, it can make all the difference between doing business versus being out of business.
Thanks and Keep Growing,
What We’re Reading Around the Web
The Real ROI Of Being Customer-Centric
“No business will survive long without satisfying its customers. That much should be evident to any company whether it is established or just starting out.”
100 Of The Most Customer-Centric Companies
“Customer-centric companies live and breathe their customers and are laser-focused on providing amazing experiences.”
Customer Centricity — Marketing as customer-centric corporate management
“[The] key to success: a more radical focus on humans. Genuine customer centricity requires to rethink all functions and levels.”
6 Ways to Build a Customer-Centric Culture
Harvard Business Review
“To successfully implement a customer-centric strategy and operating model, a company must have a culture that aligns with them — and leaders who deliberately cultivate the necessary mindset and values in their employees.”