The Conduit to Success and a Shift to Delivering Business Outcomes

5 min read
05 May

In this interview, Barry Cochrane, VP of CS at ResponseTap, talks about why success is not just about delivering business results but also about how the business outcomes were delivered.

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, 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, its impact 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:

  1. What is the customer experience during their interactions with your frontline support?
  2. Is the user experience when interacting with your brand frictionless and intuitive?
  3. Are employees having positive experiences and able to get their work done at the right quality and quantity?

Customers' success is the conduit to success and growth drivers

Since we live 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 they are 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 to measure the outcomes from the user's 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 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 relationship is built upon the right expectations and delivering business outcomes or what the customer wants us to have. 'Give yourself a chance to understand what the customer is looking for in the first three months and spend the first three 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.'

Cochrane notes,' Customer Success will continue to grow as CS's current state and how the future looks like. As people become savvy, most businesses also realize CS's value and advantage in improving the relationship.

Cochrane adds, 'Delivering a product outcome is no longer good enough. Sooner than later, customers will pay for outcomes and deliver their outcomes rather than a subscription. 

We will see an outcome business model sweeping across many industries. Why? As the industry grows and the focus shifts to outcomes, businesses will become confident and bank on delivering 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 forging a successful relationship.

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