Agile in Practice
Client Feedback: How to use Agile Retrospective
We usually collect client feedback in regards to our product or how service. How about getting client feedback by teaming up with our client and retrospecting how we can improve our client relationships?
In Agile methodologies, the retrospective is the meeting held at the end of each increment (sprint). The retrospective's primary goal is to discuss what happened during the development and release process, to improve collaboration and the overall delivery process based on the learnings and conversations.
Doing a retrospective meeting with your client allows you to strengthen the relationship. During the retrospective meeting, you’ll hear the client feedback beyond your product. And what is most valuable, your client will give you suggestions on how to improve your work and how to serve them better.
The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint. source: Scrum.org
Recently we close a significant milestone with one of the teams I work with. Agile teams have retrospectives every sprint, and each Program Increment with the management. Management involvement is crucial for the success of the company.
I like to say that a team is as strong as the management support it has.
In one of these retrospectives with the management, someone came up with the idea:
Why not do a retrospective with our clients?
The retrospective is a powerful tool to collect honest client feedback on our product, and strengthen the relationships with our clients.
When to use retrospective with clients:
- when you hit a milestone
- when you work on a project like structure
- every quarter
- when you work with these clients closely on long term
Before you go do a retrospective with your clients, define the goals.
Why do you want to use the retrospective format to get client feedback?
What do you want to get out of the meeting?
Who should participate?
My recommendation is to use the Agile Retrospective to get honest feedback from the clients on how they feel, how things look from their perspective, and what they’ll like to see in the future. Use the Agile Retrospective to learn how the clients would like this relationship to look.
Ideally, the client retrospective should be two ways — collect feedback from the client and give feedback. That will help to improve the overall relationship.
How do we organize a retrospective with our client?
- Book a date. I recommend taking 1 -1.5 hours to get client feedback via the retrospective meeting.
- Brief the participants on what are the steps of the workshop.
- No homework. We want everyone to share what people have in mind, not to select the words carefully. Honesty is fundamental.
- Select a tool. If you do a remote retrospective, I recommend you use https://easyretro.io. It is a user-friendly tool with plenty of functionalities. If you collect the client feedback via the retrospective in person, I recommend using multiple color post-its, sharpies, and a giant board.
What is the best structure of a Client Feedback Retrospective?
Usually, the retrospectives are about collecting feedback and then discuss it. We collect the feedback in many formats, but all follow the structure: positive, negative, something new:
- what went well, what can be improved, new ideas to try
- the 4L: liked, learned, lacked, longed for
- Start doing, stop doing, keep doing
- Pros and Cons
- The good, the bad, the ugly
- Speed, quality, love, hate, learned, dreams
Another way of doing the retrospective is by project phases, or product development process: preparation, execution, closure.
When you do retrospectives rarely, there is plenty of feedback. I learned that it is easier to collect one category at a time and discuss it rather than collect everything.
My recommendation is to go for 1hour meeting and structure the discussion into 3–4 sections—either three blocks of 20 minutes or four blocks of 15 minutes. And out of the 20 or 15 minutes to take 10–5 minutes to collect feedback and 10 minutes for discussions and clarifications.
How to run a retrospective to get client feedback?
- Break the ice and make the audience comfortable. Everyone should be well during the retrospective.
- Make a quick introduction to the tool. If you do a remote retrospective, ensure everyone has access to the tool you are using, and knows how to use it. If you do it in person, confirm with every participant that they have the materials they need.
- Present the process: what does each participant need to do and the time assigned.
- Explain what will happen with the feedback collected
- Ensure each participant receives a copy of the output
Collect Client feedback with Agile Retrospective — Tips for the facilitator
- A facilitator must keep the time very strict.
- Make people feel comfortable to open up.
- Introduce to the audience the tools
- Tell the rules of feedback: listen and accept, do not justify, do not argue. Everyone is entitled to have an opinion.
- Encourage the participants to provide feedback based on facts,
- The feedback provided can be impressions and not necessarily based on facts.
- Your goal in the retrospective is to make sure you understand the topics raised correctly, to bring them into the team.
The retrospective is an intimate moment of honesty when we grow as a team.
What to don’t do when doing a client retrospective?
- Don’t do a root cause analysis. That is instead something you want to do inside your team.
- Don’t set actions, due dates, and assign responsibilities. You want to hear some honest feedback from your client and bring it inside your team to define an action plan.
- Don’t justify yourself. That is rule number one in feedback: listen.
In conclusion, you can extend agile ceremonies outside the scrum team and apply the best agile practices in your clients' relationships.