The Secrets Behind The Responsive Method by Aha!
April 30, 2019

The Secrets Behind The Responsive Method by Aha!

by Brian de Haaff

T-R-M. You will hear these three letters often at Aha! — with teammates exclaiming things like, “Melissa showed some next-level TRM today, showing the customer new functionality that they needed before they even asked for it.” Or “I reported a bug to the engineering team and it was fixed within 10 minutes. Serious TRM!” So, what is TRM? It stands for The Responsive Method. It is the engine that powers us.

TRM is centered around the belief that interactions with urgency are what propel people and organizations forward.

We pioneered this framework for personal and business success back in 2014. We knew that we wanted to build a business that put people first. And we believed the best way to do this was to increase the number of urgent interactions we had with both our customers and the team.

Now, you might be wondering why responsive interactions matter. The reason is simple. When you respond to a request as quickly as possible, you have the best chance of addressing the issue while the need is still fresh. The requester will likely be focused, passionate, and ready to engage.

Think about the alternative. If you wait too long to reply (or fail to reply altogether), you lose the requestor’s focus and passion. The problem will be tougher to solve. And you might be left with a frustrated customer or teammate.

Yes, it is true that TRM helps you respond really, really quickly. But more than that, it allows you to get the most out of every interaction while staying on track towards a goal. I believe it is what has helped Aha! to achieve breakthrough success and grow into the company we are today.

TRM started with five core principles, but it has evolved over the years as Aha! has grown.

These principles drive how we operate and serve customers and employees. But people often wonder how we actually put TRM into practice. The answer is pretty straightforward — it works for us because we are committed to it. From five principles to eight, we rely on TRM to energize the business and the team.

Here is an inside look at how we use TRM each day:

We are goal-first We take a goal-first approach to everything we do. This means that the entire team is clear on our vision, as well as what we need to achieve that vision. You will find individual teams referencing their initiatives (the major efforts that will help us accomplish our goals) in weekly meetings. And when new work is proposed, teammates know to ask, “How will this help us reach our goals?”

We go boldly As a company, we want to create something positive and lasting together. This takes courage because we are often attempting something that has not been done before — whether it is looking for new ways to serve customers or releasing major new functionality. We also want to inspire each other, so we ask teammates to share their “go boldly” stories with the group.

We create perfect moments Greatness can be achieved every day. We like to share these perfect moments — times when we reach an ideal state. This might be when a member of our Customer Success team solves a customer’s problem promptly and then gets an email expressing delight and gratitude in return. Or it might be when one of our engineers digs deep to solve a complex bug. The point is that we pursue these moments and celebrate each one.

We get curious Our team is obsessed with asking questions and finding answers. Before digging into any task, we dig into the why of the work. “What is the goal? Who is this for? When does it need to be completed?” We also make sure that we understand our customers really, really well. This is why we only hire product and marketing experts to join our Customer Success team. Our customers tend to work in those areas and we know our team really understands their challenges — or at least knows the right questions to ask.

We embrace interruptions Interruptions are opportunities — not obstacles. So, we approach every interaction with speed and kindness, whether with a teammate or with our customers. We even track how responsive we are. For instance, I can tell you that our Customer Success team has an average global response time of less than two hours. And when a customer reports a bug, engineering drops everything to fix it.

We say “yea or nay” now No one likes to wait and everyone hates to be ignored. So when requests come in, we evaluate them, digest the information, and respond — as soon as we can. Sometimes we have a clear answer right away. But other times we need to respond with something like, “Sorry, this is not possible right now” or “I need to look into this.”

We show transparency “Transparency” is not just a buzzword we throw around lightly. Being transparent is about creating trust and sharing information freely. For example, we present detailed performance data at our all-company meeting. We do this so everyone knows how the company is progressing against our plans and initiatives. We strive to squash drama and give feedback directly.

We practice kindness When new folks join Aha! they are often amazed by how kind everyone is. This is not surprising to me though — we have worked hard to build kindness into our daily work. One way we do this is through something we call “hatitude.” It is when we show gratitude to our teammates when they give extra effort. But we also try to be kind when teammates are struggling or when customers are not the right fit for our software.

TRM is a business and moral framework — it has helped our team become better and happier.

I realize this is a bold statement, but I have seen firsthand how it pushes us towards excellence. The TRM approach declutters our minds — helping us to focus on the big picture and the details all at once.

So when one Aha! teammate turns to another and says, “Why wait?” — the answer is simple. You can probably guess what it is. We answer back, “TRM!”

How responsive are your company and team?

Our team is happy, productive, and hiring — join us!

Brian de Haaff

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product development software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability and The Startup Adventure newsletter. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the journey of pursuing a meaningful life.

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