What are your customer’s desired outcomes?

Any student of Customer Success should know the definition of Customer Success from Lincoln Murphy:

Customer Success is when customers achieve their Desired Outcomes through their interactions with your company.

Nice and simple.

Lincoln and others have explored this concept in lots of detail, and the Desired Outcome boils down to two different parts:

  1. Required Outcome
  2. Appropriate Experience

The required outcome is what the customer needs to achieve while the appropriate experience is how they need to realise it.

Mess these two parts up and, you do not have a successful customer – there are subtleties to this but let’s leave it there.

So how do you figure out these two parts?

One of the initial steps is to understand your customer more than they know themselves. Again simple in concept hard in practice.

A common tactic to understand your customer is to conduct customer interviews. The key to which is the type of question you ask.

One type questioning I like is from the Socratic method, yes there are other methods/ways. But for now, I’m going to explore the six types of Socratic questions adapted from R.W. Paul’s work on critical thinking.

  1. Questions for clarification – Why do you say that?
  2. Questions that probe assumptions – What could we assume instead?
  3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence – What would be an example?
  4. Questions about Viewpoints and Perspectives – Would you explain why it is necessary or beneficial, and who benefits?
  5. Questions that probe implications and consequences: What are you implying?
  6. Questions about the question: What does…mean?

Using questions in this style during interviews you can start to break down what the customer is trying to achieve (required outcome) and how they want to achieve it (appropriate experience).

Of course, once you have some results, you need to build experiments to confirm your hypothesis, but that is content for another day.


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