Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
The first Leadership Principle of the Amazon Way is:
Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
Here, the key is not being customer focused. Here, the interesting word is obsession. To obsess means to think very deeply about it, to never let it out of your thinking, and to use it as the constant cornerstone of approach. Most companies don’t truly obsess about anything—they think about it, they may even act on it, but they are not obsessed.
Early on Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice presidents tremble.
When asked what competitors he worries about, Jeff Bezos replied that Amazon decided early on that it would be “competitor alert, but not competitor obsessed,” Instead, his company is customer obsessed. “Companies can choose which they want to be. I think both models can be successful”.
“The best customer service means the customer doesn’t need to call you,” Bezos says, noting the most common complaint from Amazon shoppers is, “Where’s my stuff?” To that end, Amazon measures success in customer-contacts-per-units sold. “We endeavor to drive that down every year, and the way we’re driving that down is by delivering [people’s] stuff.”
Summing-up: That fixation on customer service appears to have paid off, Bezos says: The company has some of the highest customer service ratings in the retail industry.