One of Amazon’s core values is customer obsession, it’s a keystone that holds together everything they do. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, 2017 Letter to Amazon Shareholders outlines four key principles that he believes are critical to keeping his company, any company, relevant, competitive and dominant.
Customer obsession has driven my success since I first begun working. My experience at FedEx was driven by it, and so was my first ever business success. It’s also why one of the core values at both my current ventures, Netek and Better, is customer obsession.
But what does it mean?
True Customer Obsession
From the 2017 Letter to Amazon Shareholders:
There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you canbe technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality. Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to inventon their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns outthey wanted it, and I could give you many such examples. Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and doubledown when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.
With customer obsession your start with the customer and work backwards from there. With customer obsession, you’re not just listening to your customers. You’re also inventing on their behalf. Your job is to come up with innovative products that addresses their needs, even if they don’t explicitly ask you for these products. By focusing on customer obsession, you also incorporate other obsessions as well; such as technology, products and business model.
Obsessing about your customer is about leadership. Customer obsession is not doing what customers want. Nor is it about pleasing them; this is customer service. Customer obsession is about transforming your customers; it’s about leading them to a better future.