Be easy to do business with. It all starts with the customer. It’s obvious, but it works.
This is the first feature in our 6-part series from our COO, "Thinking Like a Tech Company in 2018". This series highlights the shifts in consumer behavior and its impact on how we do business today.
Here are parts 2-6 in this series:
- Part 2: How to Identify Areas of Opportunity in B2B Sales to Appease the Consumer
- Part 3: B2B Sales: How to Deliver a Purchasing Experience for the Consumer of Today
- Part 4: How a Streamlined Customer Onboarding Process is Crucial to B2B Success in 2018
- Part 5: Why It’s Crucial to Have a Contract Hub to Manage Your Customer Relationships
- Part 6: Why the World’s Most Successful B2Bs Prioritize Flexible APIs
The consumer economy has changed. As consumers become more dependent and accustomed to a mobile phone-driven lifestyle, businesses have had to adapt. A mobile-first business model includes being innovative, scalable, and immediate to customers’ needs. This fundamental shift in the consumer mindset is impacting the way B2B products are being sold and purchased in ways that we’ve never seen before. We see this in how B2B companies are selling their products, leveraging digital, and (of course) adapting to the mobile-driven consumer. This revolution started to make way in the early 2000s with the surge in social media. Now, social media is a fundamental part of a company’s engagement through tools like Slack, Salesforce Chatter, HipChat, Skype for Business, and more. All of these tools offer a one-step sign-up and an easy onboarding process, allowing their usage to grow at a scalable rate.
When Facebook introduced an easy, fast way to connect with a community and use its service in 2004, all you needed (at the time) to sign up was a university email address. That’s it. Sign up, and you can begin using the service. Today, Facebook has 2 billion active users. What if instead of its easy, one-step signup process, Facebook asked users to fill out a form and wait for a representative to reach out and complete their on boarding process? The result would be a bogged-down sign-up process, drastically lower signups, and the inability to grow at the rate which Facebook ultimately found massive success.
There are several companies, like Amazon and Uber, that have adopted the consumer-first, “click-to-register” or “click-to-purchase” services and have seen incredible, rapid growth. Amazon’s priority on growth through its fast, reliable services has skyrocketed its revenue, reporting an insane $37.96 billion in July of 2017 and beating Wall Street's estimate regularly (CNBC).
Amazon Web Services enables businesses to quickly and easily consume its products and services without ever talking to a salesperson. Amazon has leveraged its experience in ecommerce to create frictionless, seamless experiences that benefit developers at any sized business.
Uber took the frustration out of catching a cab with its mobile app, launching a revolution that has completely changed the world of transportation. In 2016, Uber reported $20 billion in gross revenue (Business Insider), and in 2017 the company reported it had, “reached 40 million customers/month, and by May of  Uber’s share of the United States ride-hailing market was 77%. The company’s fast rise to success directly correlates with the decrease in traditional taxi usage (Business of Apps)”.
Many businesses across several industries, like ecommerce for example, have adopted consumer-driven services, identifying areas to make their offerings geared more towards a self-service model.
I will be publishing a series of articles around the mindset of thinking like these kinds of technology companies, looking at specific methods for scaling self-service businesses and identifying starting points for companies to improve their consumer-driven products and services in 2018. My first tip: Using technology to scale growth.
How to Think Like a Tech Company: Use Technology to Scale Growth
Consumer-driven business models have evolved into what we call the “Uber” or “Amazon” economy. Services like Uber, Instacart, and Amazon have set the expectation for getting products on-demand through scalable customer experiences that make life easy for the customer.
The “get it now” experience with the click or tap of a button model has completely changed how consumers want and will buy things. This “get it now” methodology has bled into how people do business. Business people are consumers, too, remember—and they're starting to expect these types of experiences. They’re also starting to develop these easy transactional methods for their own businesses. Because of these rapid, easy ways of working with customers, R&D teams have been able to innovate faster and more diversely than ever before.
Uber, for example, has been able to evolve and expand its products at an accelerated rate over the last eight years by leveraging technology to scale its easy-to-use, consumer-driven products and services:
- 2009: Launches cab-alternative service;
- 2012: Launches UberX, a lower-cost alternative;
- 2013: International expansion;
- 2015: Opens robotic facility to work on self-driving cars and rebrands UberFRESH to UberEATS, opening its REST API for SMB’s to easily integrate and use its services.
- 2017: Uber announces “Uber Elevate” initiative to deliver flying cars. Really.
What’s incredible about Uber’s growth from a product perspective is that the company has not only innovated to meet customer demand, but it has been able to develop concept technology that no one has seen before. The company has not just completely disrupted the transportation industry, it’s reinventing it in a way that can truly change the world as we know it (more than it has already).
A Key Factor: Internalize Traditionally Hassle-Prone Processes to Scale Massive Growth
So how has Uber been able to diversify its products so rapidly? In simple terms, the company has identified areas of opportunity where it can streamline workflows, both on the business and consumer side. Obviously Uber’s self-service model of ordering a car or food is simple and effective (and what customers want), but it has internalized traditionally hassle-prone processes so it can scale to its massive growth.
Leveraging technology to support and scale a customer-first mindset has permitted companies like Uber, Instacart, and Amazon to see the growth they’ve had today. These businesses are (or are thinking like) a technology company, and because of that they’ve been able to completely reinvent their respective industries and eliminate any preconceived notion of “how things have always been done.” This serves as a refreshing turn to customers and partners of these industries. It makes companies easier to purchase from and do business with.
How Uber Leveraged Its Technology to Scale
Uber has leveraged technology to scale by meeting customer demands. The company saw the frustration in the stagnant market of cabs:
- Difficulty and inconsistency of obtaining a cab;
- Inconsistent prices;
- Poor customer service;
- Among others.
Business of Apps stated the “many reasons why customers prefer to book Uber versus taxis. Among those are: clear overview of pricing prior to booking, one-tap rides, follow drivers on map, cashless convenience, fare splitting as well as feedback options.” Uber leveraged its self-service technology to deliver all of these features, thus completely disrupting the taxi business.
A Timeline: How Amazon Pivoted to Become a Technology Company
Take a look at the inforgraphic we've created of Amazon's product diversification and company evolution. Amazon not only leveraged technology to adapt to its consumer surroundings, but completely changed the way it did business, pivoting massively to truly become a technology company.
Source: USA Today; Graphic: PactSafe.com
At PactSafe we're committed to innovating to the needs of our customers, and we're inspired by companies who share the same goal. Talk to us today to see how our businesses can partner together.