Looking beyond experience to measure customer outcomes

customer outcomes

By Mathew Sweezey and Dave Duke

In recent years business leaders have eagerly embraced the importance of creating world-class experiences that lead to deeper customer relationships. While this evolution has been fruitful, new research shows that experiences are not enough if they don’t lead to the desired outcome. Customer Outcomes is the true customer goal and the next phase of customer experience. We will explain this today.

A New North Star

You can’t have a healthy business without successful customers.

But how do you measure that success? Progressive businesses have long measured customer success via experience. Using metrics such as Net Promoter Score, product usage, and adoption. However, there is an executive mindset shift occurring that recognizes customer outcome achievement as a better method of measuring success.

A recent research study conducted by Salesforce found that companies are now valuing outcomes (what the customer needs to achieve) over experiences. In the report, one Chief Experience Officer stated, “We have happy customers with great experiences leave us, and unhappy customers with bad experiences stay. The difference is the outcome they received.”

Another said, “We now measure customer success as customer outcomes/customer experience. Where outcomes are weighted more than experiences.”

As a result of the new focus on outcomes, businesses are shifting away from Net Promoter Score as their guiding light and replacing it with Time To Value (TTV). This shift is allowing them to focus on and measure how quickly they can deliver the customer’s desired outcome.

Experiences matter, but outcomes should be the centerpiece of the customer relationship as it puts the vendor in a position to deliver real business impact, and truly deliver what the customer desires. Outcomes are the new north star of customer experience.

Convergence of Experiences and CustomerOutcomes

Outcomes are the new guiding light, but we need to think about the relationship between experiences and outcomes.

The experiences you create are the vehicle for putting the customer in a position, or not in a position, to achieve their outcomes. It’s this convergence that needs to be understood so the customer can be set up for success. Experiences are the method, outcomes the goal.

It’s important to understand that the experiences an organization creates must have well-understood goals. While we say we want to retain and grow customers, we need to articulate how value is going to be delivered across the customer lifecycle through a world-class experience. This starts internally.

First, there must be executive approval to move in this direction. Many of the companies in the research who were focused on outcomes, had been focused on experiences first. So there needs to be an adjustment to the strategy.

Next, employees must understand this relationship between outcomes and experiences and be provided the tools and structure to be able to help customers achieve their outcomes.

Once experiences and outcomes are linked, businesses can operationalize employee experience as they create new tools and methods to help them do their job better.

A company-wide effort

Here’s an example. One enterprise software company in the Salesforce survey was able to focus on the employee experience and empower them with a new tool.

Customer success teams worked with the customer in the pre-sales stage to better understand their desired outcomes. IT built a microservice to guide employees so they knew exactly how to deliver the outcome in the most efficient manner possible.

Marketing helped craft the messaging, while the product team built new connections to other software to make the onboarding process easier. The moment was not owned by a single team. It was an orchestrated effort focused on delivering the desired outcome.

The tool helped them guide each customer to their outcome in a more efficient manner which helped decrease their time to value by 65 percent.

Outcomes and experiences work together. Leaders must embrace innovation in this area and create new practices and principles that acknowledge the importance of this link. Experiences are the method, outcomes are the goal.

The Path to Customer Outcomes

All organizations want to be more customer-centric (or let’s hope so!).

However, the pathway to customer-centricity requires more than a focus on the outcome. It requires brands to re-imagine the way they organize Marketing, Sales, Services, Customer Success, and Product around customer outcomes. When organizations move these roles out of silos and into cross-functional teams focused on the key moments of the customer journey and outcomes, they can achieve a new level of human-centric marketing.

Customer outcomes are not owned by a single department. They require a full organization working together. Orchestration is the bedrock of effective, outcome-based customer management. Leaders need to restructure their organization to facilitate this context cross-functionally if they want to reach the apex of customer-centricity.

To become truly customer-centric businesses leaders must ask new questions of their organization.  Do we understand the importance of customer outcome achievement as a company?  Do our employees and customers understand the process that they are going to go through to achieve outcomes? Can our teams easily collaborate to deliver outcomes? When the answers are “Yes”, the organizations are able to deliver the customer’s true desires. They are able to orchestrate outcomes.

In the end, the relationship between the customer and the supplier will be examined through the lens of value delivery and business impact. This reality calls on all customer and revenue leaders to look inward and do more to focus on the true definition of customer success. It is time to follow a new north star and unite around the desired outcomes of the customer supported by world-class customer experiences.

customer outcomesDave Duke is the Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer at MetaCX. Prior to MetaCX, he led Customer Success at Sigstr (acquired by Terminus) and held various customer management roles during his tenure at ExactTarget/Salesforce Marketing Cloud from 2005-2015. Dave is also the host of Revenue Revolutionaries, a new podcast focused on interviewing today’s best revenue and customer leaders.

Mathew Sweezeycustomer outcomes is the Director of Market Strategy for Salesforce, and author of The Context Marketing Revolution. He is regarded as one of the leading minds on the future of marketing and his visionary insights into consumer behavior, technology, and new business strategies have changed the way startups, Fortune 500, and nonprofit organizations alike find customers, break through, and build modern brands. Mathew is the host of the award-winning podcast The Electronic Propaganda Society and has written for The Economist, Forbes, HBR, The Observer, and Adage.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

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