A few weeks ago, I had the honor to host our twelfth ServiceSource Customer Success Summit. We brought together incredible leaders from companies such as Mitel, Red Hat, Dell, Leica, Pulse Secure, TSIA and Gainsight, to name a few, to engage in strategic conversations about the future of the technology industry.
Through insightful and inspirational workshops and presentations, leaders exchanged creative ideas, best practices and innovative tactics around growing revenue and customer success in an ever-changing outcome economy. As J.B. Wood, CEO of TSIA, mentioned in his presentation at Summit, “The state of the technology industry is facing commoditization of feature functionality, as well as acceleration of new consumption models.” That means leaders in this space must wrap their heads and business models around new and different outcomes desired by customers of the future – new consumption types, new key performance indicators and new success metrics.
What is the outcome economy and why do we have to change the way we do business?
It’s simple, really. As customers and consumers have greater access to more options in everything from technology to telecommunication services, healthcare, retail goods and so on, the main differentiator becomes their experience. What we see happening is customers are no longer buying a product or service, they’re buying to have the best experience, or the outcome. For example, today when a customer buys a drill, they aren’t buying the tool for the sake of owning the tool. Nor are they buying it for its capability to drill a hole in the wall. Instead, the focus is on what the hole enables the customer to do – hang a frame, mound a shelf or install a piece of art.
This is not a new concept – companies like Rolls Royce, John Deere and Caterpillar have leveraged outcome-based marketing and selling for decades. More and more, companies with different business models, products and services in every vertical are realizing the changes and starting to think differently about what success looks like for their organizations and customers. Speaking for ServiceSource, we are very excited to be considering new and innovative ways to retain customers and grow revenue for our clients with a heavy focus on end-of-the-day outcomes and customer success.
The spotlight on “customer success” began to shine in very recent years
A notable leader and published author on the topic is Gainsight CEO Nick Mehta, who also presented at Summit. The right focus on customer success enables an organization to reduce churn and grow recurring revenue. According to Mehta, customer success means taking the standard “funnel” approach of selling a product or service with some support to the customer and adding an extra layer of padding. That padding comes in the form of helping a customer onboard or adopt that which is being sold, as well as caring for their needs in the form of expansion and renewals efforts. Mehta’s book on the topic is a solid read for leaders interested in best practices – particularly, what not to do when standing up a customer success function in their organization.
I would be remised to not mention the heartfelt and stirring presentations by Simon Sinek and Doc Hendley. Sinek is a speaker and author on leadership and management who spoke to the crowd about what it means to be a true leader, no matter in which industry one works. Hendley is the founder of Wine to Water, an organization that brings clean water to communities in need around the globe. He inspired the crowd to consider the problems they want to solve in the world and to leap towards a solution, no matter the perceived distance.
Of course, we did more than talk business. Participants enjoyed the beautiful Pacific Ocean views from the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, CA. While some focused on the gorgeous courses of the world-class Pelican Hill Golf Club, others learned to surf, painted the sunset while sipping southern California wine or delighted in a Segway tour of the resort. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun and took great pleasure in building stronger relationships with our business partners.