Brands have been ‘customer obsessed’ for a long time, but only recently has the catchphrase made it into the corporate/ CX lingo. We have one company to thank for that – Amazon. In his 2016 Letter to Shareholders, Jeff Bezos outlined what ‘True Customer Obsession’ is. Here is an excerpt from the letter:
True Customer Obsession
There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be 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 invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they 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 double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.
Amazon is truly customer obsessed. Bezos is famous for leaving an empty chair in the conference room for the most important person in the room – the customer. The symbolic gesture aside, Amazon has made customer-obsession a core part of its culture. They started with the mission to be “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company” and have truly lived up to it ever since. As expected, it’s customers have rewarded Amazon appropriately for it.
While some brands clearly understand what it means to be Customer Obsessed, there are many that have misunderstood it.
What Customer Obsession is not
Customer obsession is not about obsessively gathering customer data across the customer’s journey. It is about what you do with the data. It is about how you use the data to design business processes that remove friction from the customer interactions and simplify their experiences. It is about delighting your customers.
It is not about obsessively surveying your customers for feedback at every opportunity you get. It is not about setting up multiple listening posts along the journey and gathering huge amounts of feedback only to do nothing about it. It is about making the customers feel that you care. It is about listening to them when and where they want to be heard, and taking action based on their feedback.
It is not about polling them to test every new products or service idea. It is about inviting them to co-create when you design your product or service. It is about collaborating with your loyal customers and making them feel that you value their inputs.
It is not about obsessively tracking hits to your web sites and having your sales team follow up with every potential customer. It is about mapping every customer journey to truly understand (their perception of) the interactions in an effort to make each one of them delightful.
Finally, it is not about obsessively tracking and trying to improve every business metric. It is about creating an enduring competitive advantage by putting your customers at the center of every business decision you make.