Skip to main content

Customer Outcomes

Outcomes are the resulting experiences of a situation. A product helps deliver a positive outcome when customers achieve their goals with it; it makes their lives better.

What are customer outcomes?

Customer outcomes are the results that customers and users experience when they use a product. These results can be positive or negative, which is why it is critical for Scrum Teams to understand what their customers and users want to achieve. This understanding helps the team provide them with a better product and experience, driving value. Understanding customers' desired outcomes also enables the Product Owner to make better-informed, value-driven decisions about their product.

Customer outcomes are frequently confused with outputs, but they represent distinctly different aspects of results. Outputs are tangible results from activities. For example, working on functionality in a product (an activity) creates a new feature for the product (an output). Outputs are used to deliver outcomes and are easy to measure, such as the number of features delivered. However, they are not an indicator of value delivered. A Scrum Team could deliver many new features, but not satisfy a customer in what they are trying to accomplish. In fact, they could even cause a negative impact on the business. This is a common pitfall that most companies make when focusing on outputs as value and progress which typically causes them to focus on details and lose sight of the overall picture. This type of behavior leads to the “if we build it, they will come” approach and assumes customers and users get value from whatever is built and offered.

Customer outcomes should be:

  • Measurable. Customer outcomes are challenging to measure because they are multifaceted and often qualitative. They are measured by functional and emotional judgment and are imprecise. To get started, consider the gap between the customer’s current experience with your product and their desired end state. This is known as a satisfaction gap.
  • Described from the customer’s point of view. Customer outcomes should be considered from the customer and user’s point of view. Keep in mind the different types of customers and users you have. Different customers and users have different desired outcomes that may or may not be worth pursuing.
  • Defined early. Understanding a customer’s desired outcomes helps the Scrum Team focus on product discovery and to validate assumptions quickly and continuously.
  • Reviewed often and regularly. Human behavior changes, so expect customers’ needs to change in relation to your product. 
  • Drivers for outputs. Customer outcomes are the drivers for the outputs a Scrum Team creates and aligns with a product’s strategy and goals.
     

An outcome-driven approach is critical in complex and agile environments, where the goal is to deliver value continuously to the customer, adapting and iterating based on feedback and results. In addition, understanding and working toward goals based on customer-driven outcomes sparks creativity tends to enable discovery and increase the motivation within the Scrum Team as they develop and improve the product. It also allows the team to set realistic expectations with all stakeholders while discussing ideas, goals, and the lifecycle of a product. 

Determining customer outcomes - getting started

To determine customer and user outcomes, start by asking them questions focused on their needs, preferences, and goals, such as:

  • What motivates you to use our product?
  • What do you specifically want to accomplish by using our product?
  • What challenges do you have that you hope our product can address?
  • What is our product currently lacking for you?
  • What is an ideal result you would like to see from using our product?


Their answers will help you identify satisfaction gaps that you can fill to better satisfy your customers and users.

Conclusion

Customer outcomes shape products based on customer needs and what they determine as valuable. It’s important to determine what your customers want from your product early on, and also to continuously explore what they might feel is lacking so that you can continuously discover and validate their needs. As you run experiments to validate your assumptions, be sure to consider how you will track and measure these outcomes effectively.

 


Resources:

Video
Scrum Teams often focus so much on the work they are getting done that they lose sight of the value they may or may not be delivering to their customers. This short video explores how one Scrum Team lost their way, but got back on track by focusing on customer outcomes. (3:33 Minutes)
5 from 1 rating

 

Video
In this Scrum Tapas video, Professional Scrum Trainer Magdalena Firlit explores the key differences between outputs and outcomes, highlighting why focusing on outcomes is crucial. Additionally, she illustrates these concepts with practical examples to help you apply this understanding effectively in...
5 from 2 ratings

 

Blog Post
Impact Mapping is a powerful technique that helps teams understand how to link the work that they do with results that their organizations would like them to achieve. We’ve been using this technique for a while in our Scaled Professional Scrum and Professional Scrum Product Owner courses.
4.7 from 211 ratings

 

Blog Post
Many years ago, I questioned myself about what makes a software product successful and what makes it fail.
5 from 2 ratings

 

Learning Series
This learning series discusses the importance of developing and delivering valuable product Increments in order to improve the outcomes that its users and customers experience. Scrum Teams deliver product Increments and measure the results to understand what customers want or need.

 

 

 

 


What did you think about this content?