Standing out as a business-to-business (B2B) company in the post-pandemic world means doing things differently. Here's how to stay ahead.
Even though we've spent much of the last year apart from one another, businesses have realized that they have to stay close to customers or they'll risk losing them.
Today's market is more crowded than ever. Consumers are distracted. Hundreds of companies are competing for their attention and the only way to win is to stand out from the noise with an experience or product that can't be ignored.
Popular consumer brands like Apple have been delivering personalized customer experiences like this for years. Experiences that resonate in crowded markets, that capture distracted eyeballs, and win customers and keep them. Rightly so, customers expect the same treatment from business-to-business (B2B) companies. But we haven't been delivering.
I've always said that customer experience is the only thing separating a valuable product or service from just another commodity. In B2B, the most groundbreaking products are deeply and directly tied to customer experience. But the sale is not the end, it's the beginning. You can add millions of users, but if they churn, you've failed. Surviving and thriving today is about more than winning new customers. It's about keeping customers. Renewing, expanding and advocating. Because customers are driving business growth, and ultimately -- revenue.
The pandemic has taught us that the world can unexpectedly change in an instant. But changes will come and go. Amidst it all, you must stay focused on delivering the best customer experiences possible. And here's how you can do that:
Lead from the bottom.
Leaders are responsible for much more than establishing a company's vision. Great leaders hire the right people to execute that vision and champion their culture. Great leaders hit their goals and customer success is paramount in all of this.
It's no surprise that the happiest customers attach themselves to brand leaders that value them as much as moving up-market. You can use "the upside-down pyramid" organization structure to do just that.
In most structures, the CEO sits at the top of the pyramid, followed by the rest of the C-Suite, then executive leaders and managers, and finally individual contributors at the very bottom. Try flipping this upside down, putting customers at the top, and CEOs at the bottom. This allows you to put the customer at the center of everything you do.
I like this structure so much that it's something that I use at my own company. It's a structure that prioritizes the customer and is tied to every decision, iteration and move a company makes.
Connect with your customer in real life.
Many successful companies make the conscious decision to prioritize their customers and their experiences. That means giving customers dedicated face-time with your sales and customer success reps. But historically, this hasn't happened, and these departments have been siloed.
Especially in today's remote world, every customer-facing department should focus on building better customer outcomes and relationships. Disconnected sales and customer success divisions can leave buyers feeling baited and switched, or unhappy with their purchase.
Renewal and expansion of existing business comes from championing customer success. Today, B2B companies must focus on retaining and establishing deeper connections with customers in order to drive business growth, and increase revenue.
So remember, if you want to position your company for hyper-growth, it starts, and ends, with your customers.
This article was originally published on Inc Magazine.