How an Agile Framework Creates Satisfied Clients (and Developers)

Is something missing from your development strategy?

Many of us unfortunately stay in the dark when it comes to improving the way we do things. After all, we can never know that we’re doing something “wrong” until it is pointed out to us. If you feel like you are doing everything “right” in your software development and yet frequently come up against dissatisfied customers or blasé reviews, you’re certainly not alone. Although it’s tempting to look for one or two quick fixes, perhaps what’s really needed is an overhaul of the way you approach a project from day one.

That’s where agile software development comes into play.

Customer Satisfaction is the First Principle of Agile Development

Customer satisfaction is at the root of agile development. As the name “agile” implies, flexibility and a willingness to adapt to changes quickly is one characteristic that sets agile developers apart. Among the core principles set forth by the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, customer satisfaction is listed first, highlighting its importance. After all, customers are the driving force behind software development. If the software doesn’t meet the needs of the end user, what purpose does it serve?

How to Keep Clients Happy During the Development Process

Listening to and understanding clients’ needs and then translating them into valuable software is certainly an art form. But building relationships with clients is an ongoing process, one in which you have countless opportunities to satisfy them and keep them happy. Here are some small but powerful ways to make each of your clients feel respected and valued.

  • Ditch PowerPoints, handouts and diagrams.

    In progress meetings, present your clients with a working sample of the software. This reduces confusion, allows questions or concerns to be raised in a more timely fashion, and builds trust between the client and the developers. Diagrams, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations all attempt to provide a visual representation of the software, but nothing beats the real thing. Plus, demoing the software itself, even if it is a work-in-progress, saves the developer time in the long run. Who honestly has time to create a PowerPoint when sitting down with the client and the software is more effective and efficient?

  • Don’t be on-time; be early.

    Many clients have reasonable expectations about the time it takes to develop a superior product. But at the same time, everyone loves to be surprised with early delivery. One of the key ways in which agile developers can create satisfied customers is by delivering updates earlier than expected. Set a realistic timeline for project deliverables, but build-in an extra day or two (or even longer) to guarantee that things are done before your client expects them. This underscores the fact that you’ve been working hard and gives the impression that this client is one of your top priorities. And from a client’s perspective, that feels good!

  • Collaborate closely with clients.

    This means meeting often to show the latest progress made to the software and embracing changes that need to be made, regardless of how late in the process they are brought to light. The founders of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development recommend delivering working software on a weekly basis rather than monthly. Even if your client has concerns or negative feedback, handling them in a collaborative and constructive way helps you turn them into satisfied (and hopefully repeat!) customers.

Developer Satisfaction is Also Key

The agile development framework seeks to make developers’ lives easier and more fulfilling, resulting in happy partnerships around the office, not just with clients. What makes a work environment satisfying can vary on an individual basis, but the following generally produce good results:

  • A collaborative environment, not an isolated one
  • Micro-managing is avoided in favor of building confidence and trust in employees, and to allow them to create their own workflows
  • Over-documentation is avoided to allow developers to focus and be efficient
  • A sustainable work pace is maintained to avoid employee burnout

At the heart of an agile software development framework is a responsiveness to the needs of both clients and developers. If you and/or your employees often feel fatigued and dissatisfied, don’t try a career change just yet. Instead, learn more about agile software development. It could alter the way you approach a software development project for the better—from beginning to end.

 

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.

Are You Laughing About Your Text Marketing?

There’s no better way to grab the attention of the mobile masses than with a little humor.

Text marketing sprinkled with humor will set your campaigning apart from the competition for a number of reasons.

With tickling text messages in mind, here are a few benefits of using humor in your text marketing:

Top Companies Getting Mobile Laughs

iONE_51115With more than 2 billion mobile users and growing, there’s no better time than now to turn your next text marketing campaign into a mobile standup routine.

Okay, you don’t have to have your audience rolling in their seats, but a little humor does go a long way.

Just take it from these funny mobile campaigns….

  • Funny and Fake – Bradesco, a Brazilian car insurance company got their mobile followers laughing by sharing a picture of a shiny new car with them. When recipients swiped the image, the car crashed into the side of their smartphone screens followed by the message, “Unexpected events happen, so you better have insurance”.
  • Complete the Ad – Axe Body Spray sent texts out to their subscribers that linked to an image of a supermodel taking off her jacket. The image was followed by a message prompting recipients to text a certain code after 9pm to complete the ad. Thousands of guys did only to receive a message stating they have dirty minds and therefore need Axe.
  • Happier Hour – Taco Bell marketed a funny take on Happy Hour by sending out a text to followers encouraging them to participate in Happier Hour. What’s happier hour? A reminder to meet up at Taco Bell after work for tacos of course.

Sure, the text marketing campaigns above are funny, but what exactly are the benefits of a humorous campaign?

Memorable Marketing

The article “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One: Using Humor in Text Marketing” mentions keeping funny campaigns short and clean. This is all part of creating a text marketing campaign that’s memorable.

When you go the funny route, you’re setting yourself apart from the competition, which will make customers remember what you have to say.

A humorous text doesn’t have to be over the top to be funny, but it does have to be clever or at least have a punch line.

The Funnier, The More Shareable

When you unleash a text campaign that’s truly funny, it practically markets itself.

How?

Well, when people find something funny, it’s their natural inclination to share it with friends and family.

Whether you text a clever ad that turns out to be something hilariously unexpected or you link to a funny video, being funny will increase the chances of word of mouth advertising, which is hugely beneficial.

Approachability Factor

Opening a line of communication between your business and potential customers is the key to marketing success.

With a little humor in your text marketing campaigns, you’ll make your business more approachable. When your business is approachable, it makes customers more willing to reach out and communicate.

If you have a funny bone, share it by turning your text marketing into a mobile laugh factory.

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including mobile marketing and technology.

9 Ways to Keep Leads and Prospects Engaged

Sometimes the usual phone call or email is just the complete wrong way to follow-up with leads.  While tempting, keep in mind that you may catch them at a bad time, lead them to feeling like they’re “being sold,” or have them ask you to stop attempting altogether.  How can you spark action and interest into that lead without a hard sell?  Simple!  Here are 9 types of information you can send to your leads to keep their attention:

Recorded Webinars

Webinars are a convenient way of educating a large audience with minimal costs associated.  What is also great about them is that they can be recorded!  If you’re going to deliver a great presentation that highlights your expertise, make the most of it by saving the recording and using it as a sales tool for future leads and inquiries.

Recorded Sales Demonstrations

In sales, you may come across a situation where you have to deliver multiple demos for the same company before you can close the deal.  While every point of contact is an opportunity to get closer to the lead, make sure they don’t forget you (and can show you off to colleagues) by sending them a recorded demo.  That way, they can refer back to it at their convenience and never forget the greatest parts of your software. For example, check out our drag-and-drop demo for our mobile website builder, iFlyMobi!

Digital Company Brochures

If you have a fantastic printed brochure, turn the original PDF file of it into an electronic sales tool!  It’s a great way to sum up all of your company’s benefits and services into one well-designed package, and your leads can then save it on their desktop.  Be sure to share this via a software that handles electronic fulfullment so that you have a history record of sending it.

eBooks

Educate your audience with an enticing eBook that includes interesting facts about your audience’s pain points, and the solutions to those problems.  You can subtly promote your services and products within them, but have this eBook act as a reminder to all that you’re the answer to their problems.  Take a look at our eBook, “Guide to Selling Marketing Services” for inspiration.

Videos

Position yourself as the expert by giving tips, best practices, and a summary of services in 1-2 minute video clips.  Send this along to your prospects as a conversation starter, and let them get to know you through creative videos.

Podcasts

If you have team members who are fantastic speakers, podcasts may be the best approach to take when trying to capture their knowledge.  You can get away with longer podcast sessions as opposed to videos because the listener can listen in the car, at their desk over lunch, or on their morning run. Invite educational guests and keep folks coming back monthly for more knowledge!

Infographics

If you have a great graphic design team, and some captivating statistics, highlight both of these resources in an infographic (like this one).  They’re interesting, fun to look at, and share-worthy.  You can share information about the industries your target audiences are in, how you have increased success for clients, or how you’re keeping up with new technologies.

Service and Product Sell Sheets

Perhaps your leads don’t need the entire brochure, all they may want is a one-pager that goes over key benefits of one service or product they may be interested in.  Think real estate; they’ve mastered the 1 page sell. What’s great about having electronic sales sheets of your various offerings is that you can send a mixture of them depending on what your lead needs, and not clutter up their mind with too many ancillary services that don’t suit them.

Surveys

This sales tool is beneficial for two big reasons.  If you deliver a survey with weighted questions, you can customize the end results of what the survey would say based on the lead’s answers.  It also helps you qualify the lead in finding out what type of offerings would best fit their needs.

The bottom line?

The sales process doesn’t always have to be direct.  Take more of an inbound marketing approach and let them come to you. Sometimes the best way to keep the conversation going is to send educational and informative materials that will captivate your leads and get them excited about what you have to say so when they are ready, they come to the expert first (pssst…that’ll be you!)

Related Posts:

Need a reminder of these great tips? Print this handy cheat sheet:

UniversalWilde Explains One-to-One Marketing

I just wanted to take a second to share this great video!

It comes from one of our customers, UniversalWilde. Along with being featured in John Foley, Jr.’s book, Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Indsutry, they also utilize our ilinkONE Version 8 software.

In this video, UniversalWilde’s President John Sisson demonstrates how his company uses one-to-one marketing techniques to help their clients succeed:

I hope that you enjoy it!

Social Media Day 2012

Happy Social Media Day! We’re thrilled to share that tomorrow is Mashable‘s third annual Social Media DaySince we absolutely love social media, we thought we would share how we use it at our company.

interlinkONE uses social media to post photos from trade shows on Facebook, upload videos of employees speaking at conferences on YouTube, tweet about webinars on Twitter, and so much more. So it is safe to say that we use social media on a daily basis throughout our company. We also love following our customers on Twitter, and seeing their photos on Facebook as well.

So what are you waiting for?… Get out there and start tweeting, posting and “liking”!

Click the social media sites below to start following us!

Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn  YouTube  Google+  Flickr  Pinterest

Want to learn more about social media? Let our friends at Grow Socially help!