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Bridging the Gap Between Product Centricity and Customer Centricity

March 3rd, 2020 Sharat Sharan

I’m a firm believer that the greatest technology companies are product driven-companies. Apple, Microsoft, Netflix — at their core, they create tremendous products.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about customer centricity lately. After all, it’s at the heart of everything we do at ON24.

Many B2C-first companies like Apple and Netflix have had the benefit of getting real-time feedback from individual consumers. You could tell immediately from sales, downloads, daily active users, etc., how much your customers liked or didn’t like your product. That, in turn, made these companies customer-centric as well, as they adapted their product to meet consumer needs.

But it’s generally been more difficult for B2B companies to access this feedback. Until recently, that is. Now unprecedented engagement and back-end analytics have pulled back the curtain, so B2B companies have the insights they need to understand how customers are leveraging their product.

But there still needs to be a shift in the B2B mindset around customer centricity. For the majority of my career, the collective thinking was that companies never had a world-class product and a world-class customer experience. If you had a great product, that could make up for an average customer experience — so why invest in it? And if you had a wonderful customer experience, that was likely because you were compensating for a not-so-wonderful product.

But I’ve come to a different conclusion: product and customer-centricity are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that the companies that win tomorrow will be those that use data from their customer experience to improve their product and learn from their product’s different use cases how to better serve their customers.

What’s changed? Digital experiences have evolved tremendously in recent years. Customer journeys start with marketing touchpoints. But today the best digital experiences go further:  ushering prospects through each stage of the funnel, surfacing personalized content, answering Q&As in real-time, and providing helpful information at every turn.

The result is that customers get personalized recommendations and content, while companies gain unprecedented insights into what these customers want and need. Through real human engagement, ON24 has been able to get the insights to drive both our pipeline and our product. It’s just another example of why today’s best products don’t happen by chance – they happen because they are constantly enhanced thanks to insights from a customer-centric approach. And that’s something we should all strive for.