One of the most powerful concepts I’ve ever come across in business is the idea of the customer’s Desired Outcome.
And if you’re thinking “one of the most powerful concepts in business” seems like a pretty hefty charge, you’re right; this concept has transformational properties.
When I first introduced Desired Outcome, I explained that this idea came about as a simple replacement for “what does Success mean to your customer?”
But it’s SO MUCH MORE than that… let’s dig in.
Quick Refresher on Definition of Customer Success
First, remember that when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company, that is customer success.
And the process used to proactively ensure your customers achieve their – or to orchestrate – Desired Outcome, is what we call Customer Success Management. That is both a function within an organization and software product category (like Gainsight).
Read my Definitive Guide to Customer Success for a great primer on this concept if it’s new you.
Desired Outcome has Two Parts
In the original article on Desired Outcome I went into detail on how to think about the two parts, but as I’ve been traveling around the world and sharing this concept with my clients and at conferences I could tell there was still a disconnect.
But it was at a private event in Toronto where I keynoted and facilitated a workshop that I finally hit on how to best describe the two parts of Desired Outcome… and I want to share it with you.
This is so awesome… here we go.
First Part: Required Outcome
Required Outcome is the job to be done, the thing your customer is trying to accomplish; it’s what gets you in the game. If you can’t help them achieve this, that’s a total non-starter.
This is where a lot of companies focus, especially in the early days (see the MVP example in the original article).
Okay, cool… your product helps them achieve the required outcome; great. But can the required outcome be achieved any other way than your product?
For most (seriously, most) products, the answer is absolutely yes.
Whether it’s a commercial competitor, open source software, DIY project, or manual labor, the thing the customer needs to get done can probably be achieved in myriad ways.
Which is why we need the other side of the equation…
Second Part: Appropriate Experience
Required Outcome – no offense to it – is really nothing without Appropriate Experience.
Anyone can slap together some features and functionality that could help someone achieve their Required Outcome and call it a “product” (and many do!)… but if it doesn’t help your customer achieve that Required Outcome in the right way – the way THEY want or need to achieve it – then you failed to deliver the appropriate experience.
Appropriate Experience is why your customers buy your product and not another.
Appropriate Experience is your differentiator; it’s why you exist. It’s why customers choose you over the next best alternative.
Appropriate Experience is – BTW – just that; appropriate. It doesn’t mean Awesome, Modern, Great, or Rich… if you’re selling to tech startups, you might be okay launching with just an API. As you move beyond early adopters, you may need to build a UI to provide that new cohort of customers the appropriate experience.
Appropriate Experience isn’t just your product, either… it’s a combination of the product, your sales, marketing, thought leadership, onboarding, professional services, support, customer success management, ecosystem, etc. Which makes sense, right?
And that’s why I say “through their interactions with your company” in the definition of Customer Success, rather than “through your product.”
Desired Outcome is the Secret to Success
One of the really interesting things about Desired Outcome – and why it’s so powerful – is that if you only help the customer achieve the Required Outcome, they may not feel “successful.”
Or like when I get off of a Southwest Airlines flight and complain to myself as I walk down the jetbridge to the terminal about the horrible experience; cramped seats, no wifi, and no assigned seating so I couldn’t get any work done. Obviously they met my required outcome – get me from Point A to Point B safely – because I’m able to complain, but otherwise I 100% of the time don’t feel like flying on Southwest was “successful.”
But I’m not the Ideal Customer for Southwest… the person getting off the plane behind me who is going on a vacation and was looking to save money in the process may feel like it was a great experience and wonder why I look so unhappy and am mumbling swear words to myself. That person is their Ideal Customer.
If you use a “bare bones” app that someone hacked together and it gets the job done but the UX is pretty rough, do you feel successful? Do you want to continue to use it? Are you going to tell the world they should use it? No. Even though it did what you required it to do.
Eventually you may need to have a full-blown suite of products with a rich UI; but that’s a function of who your customer is and their Desired Outcome.
In fact, when you mix Desired Outcome with a well-designed Ideal Customer Profile… you’ve got Growth Rocket Fuel!