The Customer Loyalty Myth: How Early-Stage B2B SaaS Should Think About Loyalty

37signals' “Just let me do my job” campaign leverages the company’s brand strategy, in that it is informed by the big change in the world, the problem they solve, and the associated benefits that make the customer the hero of the campaign. That's customer loyalty.

By
Mike Geraci
|
May 23, 2023

Despite all the crowing about customer-centricity or customer obsession or customer-led in B2B SaaS, most businesses think about customer loyalty backward: inside-out instead of outside-in. The business puts the onus on the customer when it should be on the business.

Like a microscope, the ‘customer-centric’ loyalty lens makes the target customer appear very large, but that customer is looking back at you through the same lens and you appear very small. That is their reality. They think much less about you, your brand, and your product than you do about them.

The challenge is partially semantic, as “loyalty” implies an obedience or insistence that just doesn’t exist. As IPA consumer research shows, customers are traitors, their “loyalty” can be bought if the price or incentive is right.

Yes, due to the complexity, costs, and onboarding associated with B2B software purchases, there are larger considerations and penalties associated with switching software, but if you don’t deliver on the promised performance (product and/or service), or you have failed to differentiate in a commoditized category, and someone comes along with a better deal, you will be out, just like in consumer.

As Warren Buffett said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Customers are loyal to businesses that provide them with true value and solve their problems.

What if companies flipped the lens and put the onus of loyalty on themselves, their responsibility to stay true and loyal to their customers as champions, solving their problems, and providing true value? What does that look like?

37signals is the OG of human-centered culture as a superpower. Their founder-driven un-corporate culture operates from an alternative view of how the world should be and puts those principles into practice to differentiate itself in a way that still resonates with the new era of IT and digital knowledge workers. Its “Just let me do my job” campaign leverages the company’s brand strategy, in that it is informed by the big change in the world, the problem they solve, and the associated benefits that make the customer the hero of the campaign.

There are other SaaS companies that also push culture to the front in service to the larger customer challenges which in turn enable them to create loyalty for their products and services. Think DRIFT, Trello, and Atlassian, but none of these have ever pushed out a brand-level campaign oriented around that ethos. Extra kudos that it was produced by their in-house team.

Businesses that are clear on the macro-level disruptions impacting people’s performance and the specific problem they can solve for the customer related to that are able to orient their entire operation around the customer. Be of service, from the prospect’s perspective. Serve then sell.

By focusing on being loyal to their customers, companies can create a culture of customer-centricity that generates true loyalty. When businesses orient themselves around serving the prospect's needs before selling to them, they can create products and services that are valued and needed by their customers.

-DRMG

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