“There are always two sides to every story. Understanding is a three-edged sword: Your side, their side, and the truth in the middle.“
This paradoxical quote I read on a Michigan State University website recently.
Here is what I think: Every business has three sides — customers, technology and the truth in between. Imagine a traditional scale consisting of two ends — customers and technology — suspended at equal distance from the fulcrum: Truth. That’s real business transformation. Allow me to explain.
The Balancing Act
When the chips are down, like COVID-19 and economic instability, what is the most important thing your business must do? Retain your existing customers. Right? Absolutely. While technology that supports your new customer acquisition is good, it’s equally important to use the same technology to retain your existing customers and vendors.
Let me elaborate my perspective on the three sides.
- Technology side: You need digital technologies to spur growth. But how far? You need a technology strategy that brings transformation. Let’s admit it. Companies that don’t digitally transform will perish. COVID-19 has taught businesses many a lesson. Embracing newer technologies that help your business processes transform is the only way to survive. It’s all virtual – gone are the brick-n-mortar ways forever. So, the question that you should ask is — what technology suits my business best? That’s one end of the weighing scale.
- Customer side: Customers want you to engage with them and know “WHY THEY DO WHAT THEY DO.” Your existing customers expect you to know their purpose for each purchase and their motivating factors driving their buying decisions, so that you apply latest technology tools to meet their needs. The question is — how much customer-centric technology is required to keep the engine running? This is the other end of the weighing scale.
- And the truth in the middle: When an organization buys, it does so on behalf of the entire unit. According to the SAP Insights report on “The Future B2B Customer Experience: Five Essential Trends: “The more a supplier can connect the dots for buyers, the more they elevate the purchase above a commodity choice.”
The truth is by shifting your approach from simply delivering quality products and services to considering how your products or services can create meaningful experiences for individuals and organizations, B2B companies can forge relationships with customers, going far beyond basic suppliers to becoming strategic partners. That’s the truth.
How can this be done? “Automate away everything that distracts customers from the most meaningful elements of the experience, such as purchase orders, invoice management or contract approvals, and risk management,” says the SAP Insights report.
It’s important to understand the three-edged sword: customer side, technology side and the truth in the middle.
I have given my perspective on the three-edged sword. Let me know if you agree.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Note: If you wish to read the SAP Insights report I’m referring to, please drop me an email.
By: Venkat Nanduri