Background and Career
Cochrane started as a Customer Service liaison at Sage; now, he leads the CS organization at ResponseTap.
At Sage, he notes, I learned firsthand the value of providing a great customer experience, why it is a good differentiator, and what it means to the customer. Remember, the on premise business model works differently. It is very reactive in nature, and customers had to go through different interactions before they could derive business value.
Cochrane recalls, 'when I moved to a start-up SaaS company, I learned and discovered the value of Customer Success, the impact it has in growing the business, and its significance in the renewal value.'
With the SaaS business model, we could see the tangible value of Customer Success, both in terms of how they deliver the business results and outcomes, and the difference they make in preventing churn and increasing (or expanding) business opportunities.
Cochrane points out; success is not just about the result. It's also about the delivery of that outcome. Since every customer is unique, an organization should not measure customer success as a one-size-fits-all resolution. Consider the following:
Customers Success is the conduit to success and growth drivers
Since we are living in a competitive business landscape, the key to success is delivering results beyond what the product (value) suggests. Cochrane says, 'successful relationships happen when customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.'
Consequently, before developing any plans or growth provision, knowing the success criteria or requirements of your customers and what their desired outcomes are (in case they have multiple ones) are the precursors of a healthy partnership.
Remember, the value derived from the partnerships, ultimately, leads to successful relationships. There's an old fashion way to know if customers are receiving the utmost business value. You can start at their productivity or usage report, how often are they using your service, how many users have adopted certain product features, what kind of interactions they uphold in every touchpoint, and the behavior patterns they manifested.
These are critical value points where organizations can leverage to collaborate with their customers. They can use this as a baseline on how to measure the outcomes from the user perspectives and utilize these reports frequently.
Cochrane says, some organizations, due to traditional mindsets, still view Customer Success as a cost center and a redundant role between Account Management and Support. He cautioned, instead, we must start looking at Customer Success as a conduit of success, which adds significant value and a proactive mindset to achieving mutual success.
Why delivering success so important?
Say, for example, you have a customer who signs up for a twelve month contract, yet they'd like to enter a break clause within that contract (say in three months). In this example, Cochrane explains, if the customer doesn't see value during the break clause phase they are likely to trigger the clause and walk away from the contract.
"It may sound like a broken record, yet it is worth reiterating that delivering successful outcomes are the pivotal element of successful relationships."
Cochrane shares a piece of advice to ensure there's a continuity in the process or business relationship. 'What we want to understand and learn within these three months are the measurements (of success) that customers are going to look at and what they're going to measure it against.
This kind of relationship is built upon the right expectations and delivering business outcomes or what the customer wants us to deliver. 'Give yourself a chance to understand what the customer is looking for in the first 3 months and spend the first 3 months achieving that. Look at the milestones of success and if needed stay focused don't look at big shiny goals that are far away, focus on the immediate goals that deliver value now”
Moving beyond, the pathway to the Outcome Business Model
Nurturing relationships is a constant challenge. Cochrane says, 'meaningful conversations are what connects us on a deeper level.'
As the current state of CS and how the future looks like, Cochrane notes, 'Customer Success will continue to grow. As people are becoming savvy, the majority of the businesses are also realizing the value and advantage CS adds in improving the relationship.
Cochrane adds, 'Delivering a product outcome is no longer good enough. Sooner than later, customers will pay for outcomes and the delivery of their outcomes rather than a subscription. We will see an outcome business model sweeping across many industries. Why? As the industry grows and focus shifts to outcomes business will become confident and bank on the delivery of the outcomes and use it as their business model to differentiate and set themselves apart from the competition.
Hence, capturing business outcomes as early as possible and introducing Customer Success in the sales process is the path to growing business and to forging a successful relationship.