Few organisations can thrive alone in their niches. No matter what a firm does or sells, it will always need to use products or services delivered by an external vendor. COVID-19 disrupted operations by forcing much of the world’s workforce to remain at home, which increased the demand for applications that facilitate virtual meetings. Zoom Video Communications stepped in with the most popular solution in use today. Zoom helped by fostering interactions that allowed businesses to maintain their operations, emerging as an indispensable partner for many organisations. The solution, however, has its weaknesses. Mainly, the privacy and security of Zoom is a persistent problem that hurts its brand image and customer loyalty, as this analysis demonstrates. Demands for Zoom to enhance customer experience and satisfaction have placed business-to-business (B2B) clients at the core of the provider’s strategic decisions. This paper covers how Zoom can secure its competitive advantage through value creation. Specifically, the business can secure the loyalty of its B2B customers by ensuring users have a safe and quality experience.
Before the onset of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that caused unprecedented restrictions, many people did not know about Zoom. Everything changed when individuals had to stay at home and resort to the video conferencing application to interact. Zoom emerged as a forward-thinking company that contemplated the onset of a new way of working long before industry behemoths understood the importance of facilitating virtual meetings. The company continues to maintain its pandemic gains even though more workers are poised to return to their offices after vaccination (Richter, 2021). Zoom’s popularity is indicative of the reality that the hybrid work model is here to stay (Richter, 2021). What matters now is how Zoom can capitalise and build on pandemic gains to entrench its position as the leading video conferencing solution provider.
Zoom was selected for analysis because of its potential to provide a better value proposition to cultivate B2B customer loyalty. Zoom is ubiquitous and hosts more than 300 million meeting participants per day. It also serves myriad organisations worldwide, which makes it one of the leading B2B providers. Operating in the B2B space has profound implications for its marketing decisions, including how it designs and adapts its offerings. Unlike individual consumers, institutions have peculiar needs and concerns that directly impact their bottom-line and market share. Converting B2B clients can be difficult and time-consuming, yet these customers also represent a valuable source of revenue for Zoom. To tap into this market and retain its existing clients, Zoom has to ensure that it offers value for money.
However, achieving and dealing with tremendous success has not been a cakewalk. The company’s unprecedented popularity spotlighted many of the risks it had ignored when designing the video-conferencing application. Zoom lacked enough measures to ensure the security of users, meetings as well as confidential data. It had features that set it apart and made it the best alternative among existing applications. These benefits, nonetheless, were not enough to protect its reputation. Zoom had inherent weaknesses that not only hurt its reputation but also forced it to lose key clients. Users are wary of the security of Zoom-mediated meetings as well as their confidential information. These issues can be addressed through strategic marketing decisions that ensure the firm adapts its offerings to meet customers’ needs.
B2B marketing is about engendering trusting relations that drive lasting business. In B2B marketing, a firm has to work out the logic of the offerings it provides and its features, including how it saves time and money while facilitating operations that contribute to profitability. Satisfying the unique needs of B2B customers is what earns B2B sellers customer retention. It facilitates customer loyalty, which refers to the willingness to continue doing business with Zoom. Building B2B loyalty is paramount for enhancing the lifetime value for the firm’s existing clients, which can constitute much of its consistent revenue as the world mediates the future of hybrid work. B2B loyalty attracts new business since happy users have a greater propensity to recommend its offerings to others, thereby expanding its reach. Because of the centrality of repeat and referral business in this area, ensuring clients have a quality experience can make or break the business. Repeat customers tend to spend more money on a company’s products than new ones. It is also costlier to appeal to new customers than retain the ones already using Zoom, and loyalty is the best way to cut such expenses.
Problems with the video conferencing app are especially critical in light of the pedigree of competitors it faces. Google, for example, developed Google Meet to give users an alternative that is not plagued with Zoom’s issues. Cisco also entered this niche with Cisco, Verizon, and Microsoft, offering an array of benefits and attempting to address people’s concerns with Zoom. These businesses are behemoths in the technology sector. Although Zoom has a first-to-market advantage, it risks losing its dominance if it does not guarantee a quality experience each time people use its application. Companies like Microsoft and Google, for instance, have decades of experience ensuring their innovations are secure and enjoy their customers’ trust. Zoom’s competitors pose a serious threat because they are brands that enjoy top-of-mind consideration. The infiltration of firms that are established leaders in their respective niches means that Zoom can no longer maintain success simply because it is an adequate alternative in a sea of weak options. There is now an array of solid video conferencing applications that are being increasingly adopted to offer value to the organisations Zoom has already captured or seeks to attract. Rivals have the potential to dampen the B2B customer loyalty Zoom needs going forward, which spotlights the need for urgent steps that help it secure its competitiveness.
The next question is how marketing theory can be used to conceptualise Zoom’s situation and what it needs to do in order to maintain its market dominance. As a B2B seller, Zoom has to fulfil certain specifications (Almquist & Sherer, 2018). B2B offerings are now more commoditised, and because of this, the subjective concerns and needs that business clients bring to the buying process are extremely important (Almquist & Sherer, 2018). Considerations like whether Zoom can allow seamless and safe communication play a critical role.
The figure below presents 40 types of value that business clients expect when using B2B offerings. The factors are placed in a pyramid with five different levels; as one goes higher, the considerations get more subjective. The model is instructive of the key elements that businesses seek as they use the conferencing application. Zoom users’ primary areas of concern fall under the category dubbed “ease of doing business value” in the model. So far, the pain points clients face can be resolved by fostering attributes like responsiveness, time savings, reduced hassles, simplification, connection, availability, risk reduction, and component quality. According to Almquist & Sherer (2018), factors in this rung ease operations by increasing productivity and operational performance, but there are also subjective factors here like cultural fit and the vendor’s commitment to client organisations.
That is not to say, however, that the components of the other rungs of the pyramid are not relevant. Functional value components like cost reduction as well as an improved top line matter to clients who need a secure application as well. Innovation, scalability, and good quality, which fall under performance, are just as important to B2B clients. As regards table stakes, users need the application to meet specifications, be compliant, and affordable. The components at the top of the pyramid are increasingly subjective. The elements essentially capture the need for marketing to be disruptively human and integrate the rational and emotional factors that impact customer purchase decisions (Hornstein, 2018). B2B customers demand high quality, and the firm has to improve in the mentioned areas if it wishes to enhance customer experience.
Figure 1: Types of value customers obtain from B2B offerings (Almquist & Sherer, 2018).
The upshot is that the solution is improving Zoom’s value proposition. In essence, a value proposition is the organisation’s pitch for why businesses should continue using its application over competing brands. Giving customers value for their money will allow the firm to distinguish itself from its rivals. When crafting what its customers value and how to meet their desires, the business needs to acknowledge and address the wide array of issues informing business purchases, including the objective and subjective concerns.
In the competitive B2B realm, differentiation is key for any firm that needs to make an impact. To get advantages like better consumer experience and improved retention, Zoom needs to offer product features that make it stand out and ensure optimal results for its users. For Zoom, differentiation has several components: better performance and efficacy, improved privacy and security features, and the ability to satisfy consumer specifications (Priority Metrics Group, 2016). The issue, however, is that product differentiation is not enduring. Equally important is the need to adapt Zoom’s offerings on a regular basis. The company works in an agile landscape where rivals can duplicate what it does or even churn a better innovation. Duplication is why no matter how groundbreaking and enticing its solutions seem, they often end up being similar to rival options to clients. The implication here is simple: the features that seem great today may be obsolete or ubiquitous tomorrow. The quest for distinction is integral to the marketing effort and must happen continuously. Fruitful feature differentiation will entail focusing on what matters to clients but adapting innovations to provide added value.
Zoom can pair this up with additional services, which involves service differentiation. The services it provides to ensure consumer privacy and security can be a vital differentiator. Examples include customisation, training, and setup to ensure its B2B customers find it easy to use the application. Such services may seem like expected ingredients but with stiff competition, they ultimately make the difference when clients make purchase decisions. According to Priority Metrics Group (2016, para. 5), differentiation of service means going beyond typical customer service and delivery and working on “other supporting elements of a business such as training, installation, and ease of ordering.” Even when B2B clients will get the same application from rival firms, the additional services and responsiveness from Zoom can make them stay.
Monitoring consumer trends is also helpful. Zoom will need to spend a considerable amount of time tracking customer tendencies with the overarching goal aim of providing a differentiated experience and engendering lasting B2B loyalty. More workers are getting fully vaccinated, and this signals radical changes that could impact Zoom’s prospects. Securing and building on pandemic gains requires a strong knowledge of existing and potential B2B clients.
Not all clients have the same needs. There are those who value service as others seek top quality. Still, there are those who are looking for convenience and affordability. Besides, the marketplace is not always static (Hornstein, 2018). The best example is the quick disruption that gave millions of people the incentive to resort to videoconferencing applications. It is, therefore, crucial for the company to check in with clients to establish whether they enjoy a quality experience of its application (Ray et al., 2020). The good news is that Zoom’s competitors also face the same exigencies as hybrid work gains traction as a solid option for running operations. As the world’s leading provider, it is evident that Zoom is ahead of the learning curve and needs to capitalize on this by gleaning and leveraging the insights it gains along the way. Leiblein, Chen, & Posen (2021) note that early entry provides learning opportunities that can add value by lowering future expenses unlike later entrants. Insights obtained from evaluation can inform potential changes.
In essence, continuous monitoring will allow Zoom to grasp the priorities of its target B2B clients so that it can segment its customers accordingly. Insights obtained from analyses can inform potential changes and entrench Zoom as an unassailable player in its niche. Knowing the expectations users have with regards to quality and security is the basis for having features that make Zoom be distinct and ensure it enjoys lasting loyalty.
In summary, Zoom can achieve B2B brand loyalty going forward by meeting the needs for its customers especially with regards to keeping interactions secure. Having features that foster safe interactions is key to differentiating the video conferencing application and maintaining its lead over the competition. Service differentiation also constitutes an extremely valuable strategy that can be applied to make Zoom unique. By having a solid differentiated strategy hinged on added value, Zoom can increase its profitability now that hybrid work is here to stay. Added value is the best way to defend against competing alternatives that appeal to customers with new propositions of value.
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