How to build a customer centric culture in B2B

Last week, Alfred Lin, the co-founder of Zappos and now a Partner at Sequoia Capital, came in to talk to the Front team about culture and customer centricity.

I often hear companies in Silicon Valley touting some variation of being “customer centric” or “putting customers first.” Of course, we say that too at Front, but I hoped that the conversation with Alfred would help us crystallize what customer centricity means to us and why it’s important. He didn’t disappoint!

While Alfred’s background is in B2C, his experience and advice is highly applicable to a B2B SaaS business like Front. At the end of the day, everyone using B2B software is a consumer too!

Where B2B differs from B2C, however, is that we have many different audiences for which we need to create an amazing experience. A great experience for the enterprise software buyer may not be the best experience for the end user. Our challenge is to understand and empathize with each persona, making the experience exceptional for each.

I can’t profess to have all the answers, nor do I believe that Front is perfect when it comes to customer centricity. But I do think we have some habits and elements of our culture that help us connect with our customers. So I thought I’d tell you why and how we do it.

Why we do it

In my opinion, here is why being customer centric matters:

  • It helps you retain employees. Connecting with the customer and understanding why they’re working on what they’re working on and how it will improve someone else’s life makes people invested in the company. Indeed, a recent report from Forrester found that “employees at 93% of customer-obsessed firms say they are happy to work at their firm compared to only 20% who say the same at customer-naïve companies.”

So how do we do it?

Here are some specific things we do (and you can too!) to encourage everyone to connect with the customer:

  • Everyone does support. At Front, we didn’t have a dedicated support team for our first three years — we all took shifts doing it. Companies like Stripe, Zapier, and New Relic have all had similar “all-hands support” models at some point. Today at Front, we set aside 30 minutes after All Hands each week when we encourage everyone in the company to hop into the support queue to help our customers out. You could also have every new hire spend a few weeks on support duty to help them get familiar with the product, understand common requests, and what goes into solving them.

What do you do to build customer-centricity into your culture?

LEGO builder. Co-founder & CEO @ Front (frontapp.com)