The "Outcomes Economy" w/ CS Leadership Office Hours

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This is a podcast episode titled, The "Outcomes Economy" w/ CS Leadership Office Hours. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week we are focusing on delivering outcomes.</p><p><br></p><p>A weekly segment:</p><p>CS Leadership Office Hours</p><p>Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.</p><p></p><p>--</p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:</p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Alignment Within the Customer Journey
00:50 MIN
Make Onboarding Time Valuable
01:02 MIN
The Outcome Agitator
00:32 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Matt: I dipped into probably about three or four rooms, some really cool conversations across a variety of different themes. I think one of the things that came up quite a lot was that it depends on maturity. And maturity means lots of different things. It could mean maturity of customer, maturity of you as a CS, renewal CS organization, you potentially as a CSM. Let's get the conversation kicked off and see what people have been talking about, what they've learned. And I am going to start with room seven. I've got no idea why. Who was in room seven?

Brian: I can go for our room. I took notes for the team there. Happy to cover a couple of highlights. The maturity component was a big one. That was a big conversation. Whether it's maturity of the CS or maturity of the org, that was a big topic. The other thing that came up fairly often was just making sure that there is alignment internally on the outcomes. Alignment across different departments, alignment within the customer journey right up front, making sure that everyone is working towards a common goal. We have individuals that work at smaller companies and much larger companies, and that the alignment topic came up quite often. I'm going to pick on Chris. He talked about, he's wrapping up his time at KeepTruckin, but they use a tool called Matik M- A- T- I- K. io to help them deliver. It sounds like a business review type template, a tool that they use to take the data that they capture from their both hardware and software in order to deliver that to their customers. There's a lot of other good notes in here, but those were some of the big highlights that came out of our room. I guess one other thing I'll mention, big obstacles. Carl asked," Hey, what are some of the obstacles?" And a couple people chimed in, the data pipeline, how is the data coming in? Is it accurate? Is it current? Is it consistent? Can all the departments agree that this is the source of data that we need to present to the customer?

Matt: Good points, Brian. Talking about maybe joining two of those points up, the alignment and the obstacles. And the reason I think they're joined up is because alignment for me means that outcomes should be a company priority rather, rather than the CSM priority. So for me, outcomes is a approach to selling, it is an approach to delivery and execution as well. You can't as a CSM all of a sudden magically, not easily, get to a stage where you're delivering outcomes, because you've got to sell an outcome first. Alignment for me means it's a priority for the business and the obstacles, exactly to that point, is that data, capturing it from a new business process, if we're talking about a new business flow, are we capturing it? And is that transitioned through to the onboarding phase and then through to BAU, whether it's your CSMs or account managers to deliver and execute on? Did you talk about those two in partnership?

Brian: Yeah. We did.

Matt: Cool. Good stuff. Thank you. Room seven. Let's have a look at room four. I think I dipped into room four, but I can't remember who it was, so apologies. Who was room four?

Speaker 4: I think that was us. Hi everyone.

Matt: It was. You had a good conversation around, but I think product outcomes and functionality outcomes.

Speaker 4: Right. I think we all aligned on the importance of outcome based thinking and both internally and externally customer facing, but also how challenging it is to get it right. One of our topics was around product and as customers ask for product improvements or enhancement to the functionality to ensure that you are pushing back in some way and asking the why and how that will actually deliver on their goals and why they invested in your product in the first place. I think it's important to do that long before you even bring it to product, because product is going to push back on you as the CSM. Make sure that you've met that and you prove that with the customer as well. One of the other things that we talked about was setting a baseline with your customers. When you first kick off the experience, even during the signature phase of a new partnership, actually being able to identify what your customers are seeing as true outcomes. You'll start to see little nuggets in referrals and in different customer conversations, maybe you have case studies. Once you start to identify what those key outcomes are, putting questions into your discovery when you're kicking off a new partnership. Asking things maybe about other baseline things for us, we're a hotel platform, asking about their guest satisfaction scores and getting a baseline. Or how long does it take you to do X, Y, and Z today, so that you have that data to go back to, to be able to pull your data on product usage and tell that story throughout the customer journey.

Matt: You touched on some really, really important points for me, that that baseline is really important. And when I go back to how I've tried to implement outcomes approaches at companies I've worked at, it's really been very clear around how we articulate what an outcome looks like. And to simplify it, it is from X to Y by Z. It's that smart, specific measurable, the stuff that comes as part of the smart mindset. The X is the baseline, the Y is the desired end state and the Z is the time- bound bit, because you've got to have that otherwise, it's just obviously open- ended. I think the baseline is really important in terms of how you structure it. And the questions in discovery, and I think it was in your room that we spoke about how CSMs potentially are uncomfortable with those questions. They choose to be CSMs because they might not want to be salespeople because they feel that asking those uncomfortable questions, those why questions doesn't sit with their skillset or their experience or what they want to do, and now we're asking them to do it. And that's quite challenging for people. Good. Some good ones there. Let's go to group number two. Any input from group two?

Speaker 5: I think that was us. I never can remember our number. To go on what you're talking about too. I think that it is asking some of those discovery questions, and a little bit of what we talked about too is being vulnerable and making sure that the client success managers, as we're getting into the weeds of understanding the client's outcomes, feel comfortable asking those questions, but also feel comfortable not being the subject matter expert, and knowing everything about the industry. Then we can get some more information from the client of how we achieve outcomes together. And one of the things that we had touched on was, even when a question comes up, if the person who we are asking doesn't have that answer, then say," Who else might, in your organization, might we be able to talk to about this." Getting a little bit more deeply threaded there. Some of the things that Rachel did mention too, is then saying to, it's okay for this CSM to be assertive. And knowing that there's a little bit of being assertive, but it's balanced with transparency to the client that we are, and I think if this was said, Matt you said," We are customer success, we are here to make you successful, not to make you happy and we're here for your best interest." And another point that we had just talked about around that was that happy customers may renew, but successful customers are going to grow with you. They're going to have more expansion with you. Clients that tell us that they're buying, are probably the ones that scare me the most. But the last one, and I think this was from Willow as we were talking, but in some of those discovery handoffs from sales or implementations, whatever it is. One and taking the opportunity to understand what the expected outcomes are as the sales person saw it, and then asking those open- ended questions to a client. I think she even said, putting the questions on a slide with an open text box, showing that back and saying," Is this what you're meaning?" And then matching those things up to different values that are measured against different metrics that she already has lined out. And it's really crafting what the client is saying into exactly what the team is trying to achieve.

Matt: I think that's cool. I think those clarifying questions, again, we're going down that path of skills that maybe we think of as being sales skills that actually cross over. And I think those clarifying questions are really important because, and it depends on your business, it depends on what you're selling, but actually if you've got a sales process that is potentially quite lengthy, actually those outcomes might change in that sales process. You have to clarify those questions, because when you get to an onboarding stage, what the customer initially bought your product or service for, may have changed. You have to ask those clarifying questions to validate that again. Some really, really good points in there. Let's see if we can get through all of these groups. This has been one of my challenges today. Let's get through every group. So we hear from all. Group number eight, I think.

Josh: I was in group eight. I'll share a couple of thoughts that we have. I think the first one just to speak to, is just around the comment that's been made more broadly about customer success and sales and not selling. As the space is evolving and as sort of the CX broader environment is evolving, I think at some point to be a talented and successful CSM is you've got to know how to sell a little bit. And whether it's selling value proposition and this is also something we talked about, about tailoring your message to customers, especially for smaller customers. Customers where there may be more focused about, Hey, look like I'm just using your tool because I have to get a particular function in my job done. And if it's hard for you to be able to pivot on a dime and do that, and by the way, it's not easy. To borrow a sort of wonderfully American phrase, it's," You're going to have your lunch money taken." You won't be employed for that long. And that also creates some different challenges. And we also spoke about this tangentially, about where do customer experience and customer success professionals fit into an organization? Do they fit in a sales arm? Do they fit in a delivery arm? Are they in a broader COE type of environment? That's yet to be played out. And I think as a service and subscription type based companies will have to figure that out in order for them to not only continue to drive recurring revenues, which is really how they want to make their money, but that's sort of the meat and potatoes how they're going to operate. The last thing we talked about, and then I'll turn it over because I know we're short on time, is really thinking about onboarding time to value. Phil had mentioned that when he was working with, Phil and keep me honest here, with Palo Alto. This is something that they realized in terms of being able to get customers, as an early indicator of renewal and adoption that, shorter onboarding times and being able to realize value and also having some concrete measures to drive what they meant by value, and that's going to be different for every, as a service, for every application type of framework. It may be, I logged in and I pulled a report or maybe I shaved off some amount of time in my business process. That's a key function that probably have to be universally accepted across the board in our space. I think this is just sort of a little bit, it's again tangential but important. I think one of the things that happens in the customer success space is, we get very bent about talking about what have become industry driven measures CSAT, NPS. And it's like, yeah, yeah, those are great. They're one component of the whole equation. And Madeline talked about it a little bit as well. You have to be able to create a complete story and those may be parts of it. I do think that it's something for us to think about as professionals in this space is, is being able to push onboarding time to value. And that starts, Matt with where you talked about, you have to push that with sales. Don't sell them vaporware. Don't sell them a bag of lost goods because now when I have to come in and do my job, I'm already behind the eight ball because you've sold them something that I know that's not there. Products' either got to deliver on something that's a hodgepodge that can't exist. These were some tangential things, but they're things that got brought up in this broader group, but they also bled into our conversation in our breakout group as well.

Matt: Yeah. Great stuff, Josh. I think, going back to one of your earlier points and I think I did it in my introduction, you've got to accept this isn't easy. We're going to make mistakes doing this. It is uncomfortable because too many people are doing new things, customers, CSMs, the companies we work for. It is going to be uncomfortable. But one of the things I always refer back to, and it's a CSM that used to report into me, actually both at Autodesk and at SAP. He was like," What would you rather be doing as a CSM, forcing through support issues or would you rather be having really exciting, interesting conversations with your customers about outcomes?" Actually there's an employee engagement story there if you really want to go deep into this topic as well. Right. Group number-

Speaker 7: Hold on Matt. Jan's got a hand up. Someone's using the functionality as intended by our good friends at Zoom. I'm going to tee it over to Jan.

Matt: Cool.

Jan: And you can call this group one if you want. But just one thing that Marcus in our group said that was really poignant to me, is thinking about business outcomes, because we were talking about measurement all over the place through our whole session, but business outcomes. So that if you are doing training software, it's not enough to just measure how many people have been trained, or how quickly did you get them trained. But what is the impact on the business? If they were more quickly trained, did that give them higher revenue and profits? Were they better trained so that there's fewer complaints? Things like that. If you don't understand your customer's business outcomes, what that problem is that they're really trying to solve and you aren't actually showing them that you're solving that problem, in a measurable way, then what happens is you can become commoditized very easily.

Matt: Exactly.

Jan: Marcus, if you want to speak up. That was the most poignant point for me today. The difference-

Marcus: Yeah. You nailed it. That's really it. I will say this because I know Matt will appreciate it. I call myself say an outcomes agitator. Baseline, I just want to end on this, is so critical. It comes down to coaching and teaching our salespeople in many cases, to use the right language when they're closing deals. Around why is it important to stop for a second and take a picture, take a snapshot of KPIs today because we're going to impact those tomorrow and we need that baseline to measure against. I'll end on that.

Matt: Cool. Thanks Marcus. Thanks Jan. Really good points. And I think just... I'm going to go back to Mike's point in the chat, which you followed up from, that universal measurement of outcomes. Isn't that a dollar value? Isn't everything ultimately a Dollar value or a Euro value or a Pound value? crosstalk Talk to me, Mike.

Mike: What exactly does that mean though, a Dollar value? What does a million Dollars to you me mean and a million Dollars to me? A million Dollars to company A may be, a tech touch company, that outcome may be something little, but for a smaller company that's a strategic account. The outcome is whatever's generated there. If there's going to have to be... If there's a measurement of Dollars that are financed, or Euros or whatever it is, as an outcome, it has to be a calculated per capita. What does that mean per company? Is that high? Is that low? Is that success or is it not? When I was posting in the chat, someone was asking," Can we just go based on outcomes versus NPS?" Well NPS is a universal understood number, universally understood number. And until we can find some sort of way to measure outcomes, the way that the information is conveyed in NPS, I don't think that NPS can replace the outcomes. I mean, outcomes are important, but I think outcomes mean something different to everyone, to every company outcomes are something different.

Matt: Mike, you and me need to get bear and thrash this out, because it's got longer than just three minutes worth of time to get through it, because I disagree with you wholeheartedly, but we'll pick that up on another day. And that's cool because I love having that kind of a debate. I want to make sure we try and squeeze in groups three and five. So group three, who are you?

Speaker 11: Hey guys, I'll try to go really quickly. And Mike, I appreciate what you were saying because it's not just... The way that we see it, it's more on the, yes, business impact, yes ROI, but making that connection. It's about making that connection of what was the impact of saving money or making money on the business and how can we quantify it from an ROI perspective? Because all customers, to be honest, always look for that, especially executives. They just want to know how much value is delivered. We did these 10 things. How much impact on their business we had. That's how we try to cater that conversation. But back to what we talked about, we had a good conversation, we actually talked about the importance of having success plans. The success plan being that resource that is going to allow us to capture, and again, success plans are joint efforts with the customers, understanding goals, objectives, metrics, making sure that we're in the same page and using it throughout their journey to make sure that we're going in the right direction. So we can go back to it and they can change, priorities change. That's okay. But it's just making sure we're on the same page from both sides. We also talked about the ROI perspective. That is important to make sure that we're talking about it as part of that again, conversation and being aligned with executives. It's really, really important to do that because they are the closest ones that would know what is the impact that we're bringing to their business. Those are the few things that we talked about.

Matt: Thanks and I'm really sorry that we... I want to dig on to the executive thing, but I want to give... Group five are the final group I think that hasn't had the opportunity to talk yet, to have the final say on this topic. Group five, talk to me. Or have I done group five and I haven't ticked it off?

Speaker 12: I'll take it, I'll take it. I think most everything has been covered. Thanks to everyone else it's been really good discussion. I think the one thing that we brought that's unique is the fact that individual people on the customer side also have outcomes that they are driving towards as well. And unless you capture those, you're not going to get a holistic picture of what you're trying to achieve. I think Ziv over at AppsFlyer does a really good job of this, if you want to see a framework. Thanks.

Matt: Awesome points. Great. I am going to quickly share my screen just before we wrap up, there's a couple of announcements that I need to share with you, but we will get through those. Really good conversations. It makes me feel quite comfortable that we're in a... I think maybe a lot stronger position than I thought we were when we were talking about outcomes as a CS community. It feels like it's on a lot of people's radar. I think people are starting to maybe dip their toes into the topic of outcomes, which for me is positive. It strengthens our value proposition as CSMs to our businesses. And I think that's really important. And I can't remember who put the comment in the group chat, but it might have been Jennifer actually that spoke around CSMs having to have more responsibility for revenue. Ultimately, I think that is a really good summary of maybe the value and the importance of actually why outcomes matters internally for us, for the companies we work for. I am going to take a page from Mike's book of a thought to leave you with. Now, something that is important to me is mental health in the UK. And I appreciate that across the world mental health awareness week is different times of the year. I think in the U. S. I think it's probably September, October time from memory, but we're approaching it in the UK. My call out for all of you is, look we are all struggling somewhat with the circumstances and situations we're all facing and have faced over what has been a very challenging year for all of us, irrelevant of your situations. My ask for all of you is just to reach out to somebody you know, friend, family, work colleague, boss, security guard at the house or property that you live in, whoever it is and just ask people if they're okay and do you know what? And if they say they're okay, ask them again, because actually that second time of asking, that clarifying question, actually is arguably the time that they may actually need to be asked again, because actually they're waiting for somebody to help them. That's all I'm going to leave you with.

Speaker 7: One final thing Matt, we've got the announcement for May, we're going to get Jan to quickly say something.

Jan: Yeah. We are starting to work on themes and because we've been sort of dancing around metrics with almost every topic, no matter what the topic is, we tend to go to metrics. We decided May is for metrics. We're really going to dig into it and really sort of flesh it out. I'm going to go ahead and host next week, May sixth. And the topic is going to be around the foundation. If you have a north star metric, where is your data? What systems are you using? Getting the foundations in place. And then Sherry, wave Sherry. Sherry is going to be facilitating the following week, the 13th. And she's going to look at health scores. There's a lot of different ways you can measure your health scores, but does it actually give you an idea of who your healthy customers are or does somebody still leave by surprise? Because that's a really tough way, how do you measure your customers? That's two of the topics, we'll be flushing out the rest of May when Jeff gets back from a vacation. He's definitely hosting in May as well.

Speaker 5: As Matt likes to say the watermelon effect, green on the outside and red on the inside.

Matt: Indeed. The next couple of weeks are really exciting for the community. We've got some great topics coming up, some great speakers. I've had a blast doing it. Whether I get invited back, I don't know. We'll see, maybe you'll see me on the other side next week. Have a great day wherever you are in the world. Thank you for your time. Thank you for putting up with me.

Speaker 1: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


This week we are focusing on delivering outcomes.

A weekly segment:

CS Leadership Office Hours

Every Thursday. 11:30am ET.


If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain:

This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

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