How to measure customer outcomes

Børge Solberg
Børge Solberg Member Posts: 9
5 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
edited January 18 in Metrics & Analytics

I've been so fortunate to get a leader that wants less KPIs that measure the things we care about, and more KPIs that the customer cares about. But making internal metrics is a piece of cake compared to measuring .

Nobody knows better if they've achieved a desired outcome better than the customer themselves. But how do we measure this - and the task from my leader: how do we measure the CSMs on this?

I would love some insights on how You measure customer outcomes and how You would recommend me tackling this.


  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 73
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Insightfuls
    This is a great question, Borge. To keep it simple to start, I would suggest mapping out the typical Outcomes that your customers seek by using the product/service. That is usually a) increase revenue b) decrease a cost of some kind c) increase a marketing measurement (i.e. brand awareness) d) increase distribution loyalty...some combination of that. 

    You can ask your customers if any/all/other of these are what they bought the product for, adding to the list any you are missing. If a customer is unsure, no worries, you can frame the question around, "Other similar customers to you engage with us for these reasons. Do any resonate with you?" 

    You can ask this question via 1:1 conversations, email surveys, and/or in-app pop up messaging. You can track the responses in your CRM or database of choice. A customer may have more than one Outcome selected.

    Tracking CSMs' completion of this can be done in your CRM/database as well. To start, you can create a simple measurement/marker of "Do you know the Outcome for this customer? Check the box if 'Yes'. Enter the answer:..." If you have blanks in that report for either of those two fields, you will know the customers that need to be addressed. 

    This is a straightforward but powerful question/approach. The next steps from here will be to follow a similar exercise to know how the customers are Measuring success towards those Outcomes. Not how are you (i.e. adoption data), but how are they (i.e. via looking at an increased sales close percentage or a cost reduction indicator). Those Measurements are quantitative. There also will be qualitative Measurements of customer sentiment, which can be tracked via NPS, CSAT and other direct communication with customers. 

    After Measurements, the ongoing question of whether you are meeting Expectations is the marker to know how you're performing with a customer. You know the Outcomes they seek, how they are Measuring those results, if their Expectations are realistic and if they're being met/exceeded/not. That's a cohesive way to understand each customer's relationship with your product and company. 

    I hope that helps! Thanks for asking, Borge. 
  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 164
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Insightfuls 25 Likes
    Agree with what @Brian Hansen says. I would add that effective Customer Success Planning: 

    • Clarifies and verifies reasons for buying
    • Clarifies how the customer will measure and evaluate success, and if they struggle, to suggest typical (and convenient) ways to do it for you and for them
    • Show comparative benchmarks to properly set expectations, a process called reference class forecasting, which protects against planning fallacy, a common human bias
    • Discuss Key Success Factors that lead to maximizing results, based on your experience working with similar customers
    • Obtain specific commitments for what the customer will do to ensure their own success, in particular the executive sponsor, who can make things happen and must remain engaged throughout
    • Plan for next steps and progress reviews

    Keep in mind that if you're in B2B, you will be dealing with a group of people, a decision making unit. Each member expects, experiences, and remembers value differently, so ideally you capture and track metrics that are meaningful to each constituent. An economic buyer, for example, may want to track revenue and cost impact, a technical buyer may want to track team productivity, and a user buyer how much time they saved compared to the old way of doing things. Think about, measure, and link cause-and-effect Activity -> Process -> Financial metrics that eventually lead to demonstrable ROI. 
  • Børge Solberg
    Børge Solberg Member Posts: 9
    5 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    @Brian Hansen Thank you for giving such an insightful and specific answer.

    Ideally - the outcomes or the pain that the customer is feeling is something that sales have already discovered AND documented. But for customers that have been customers for a long time (we have a really sticky product), the outcomes they seek are probably different now from when they first became customers. So there's 1. making sure sales identifies the real reason for purchase and document this and 2. track customers evolving desired outcome

    The hard part though is to actually measure what the customer sees as a valuable outcome. For example, a customer wants their employees to use less time doing X, because that equals more time to do activities that creates value to the company. One way to track if they have achieved this outcome is by asking the customer, but that's not really scalable and the customer might not know or have the right answer.

    Additionally - to @Ed Powers point, what to do when there's a decision making unit. What outcome do You prioritize? If we succeed with the technical buyer, but not the financial buyer - do we tag that customer as whole as "unsuccessfull"?

    Doing this 1-1 with a handfull of customers seems really smart and doable, but when You have thousands of customers, there needs to be a way to scale this.
  • Brian Hansen
    Brian Hansen Member Posts: 73
    Second Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Insightfuls
    Those are great points, Borge. To do this type of discovery at scale is not something I've done yet, to be honest.

    A few ideas though: 

    - Use one-question, in-app surveys for appropriate users to understand where each contact is at with regard to meeting Expectations. If a decision maker is not a user, email could work, but I'd be concerned about open/click rates. 

    - Lean into adoption data. What are the most valuable things that a customer can do within the product? Are customers doing that specific thing? Can there be a training video or other tool to help drive adoption of that component on the product? 

    - To your point about the customer not being able to measure quantifiable value, do you have any customers who have? You could share a case study or two and send that to customers and ask one question in a CTA, "Do you know how you're measuring success of our relationship?" Respondents could be invited to a video or webinar to talk about how to measure that success at their companies.

    - Send quarterly messages to customers, asking them to send quantifiable numbers for that quarter. If they can, great. If they can't, you can invite them to a video or other tutorial on what to look at. 

    - Create a field in your product to allow a customer to enter their value data point. 

    I'd be curious what others have done...these are ideas that I have not actually vetted or gotten into action yet! 
  • kmulhalljr
    kmulhalljr Member, Success Network Members Posts: 40
    10 Comments 5 Likes Name Dropper 2023 Success Network - Supporter
    Our team decided a straightforward ask was the best way to go. We performed a general marketing campaign across all customer verticals then infused surveys into our live webinar & community content events (we found response rates were extremely high - especially when compared to emailers [88.2% vs 12.6%]