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February 13, 2019
Jeff Bezos’ Philosophies on Customer Obsession (Part 2)
This post is based on a podcast where Sangram discusses what we can learn from Amazon’s first ever shareholder letter. This is Part 2 of 4. If you’d like to listen to more #FlipMyFunnel Podcast episodes, you can check them out here and listen to this episode below!
Customer-centric, customer-focused, customer-first …. You’ve probably heard all of those recently.
But Jeff Bezos has been talking about this since 1997. And not on a hip social media post, but he spoke about it in in his first letter to his shareholder, the year Amazon went public.
This week we dive into three lessons from the philosophies of Jeff Bezos on customer obsession.
(This is the 2nd of a 4-part series. If you missed the first episode, you can find it here.)
1: First things first: Obsess
Customer obsession isn’t a small add-on to a business. It’s not something Amazon added in to improve culture. It’s not even the main part of their business. Customer obsession is the hammer with which Jeff built the company.
It’s the physics of the entire being, the cellular makeup of the organism.
In his very first letter, Jeff wrote to his shareholders that he would have 1-click purchases, reviews, and recommendations incorporated at every touchpoint. He spoke about how they would personalize the experience to each individual.
Remember, this was 1997. Amazon had only started three years before, and they had just went public. The world wide web was just finding its rhythm, and “e-commerce” had barely been invented and here’s this upstart named Jeff talking about 1-click and personalization.
He had this crazy vision because of his insane obsession.
2. Fall in love with beautifully dissatisfied customers
Customers are never truly satisfied. Amazon doesn’t just believe that, they’re betting on it. They leverage the divine discontent of their customers to constantly push the envelope like it’s Day 1 (more on that later in this 4-part series).
Even when customers are giving rave reviews, they’re still unsatisfied. Customers always want more. Jeff feeds on this mentality. It’s why Amazon pioneered open reviews. When you purchase a product, you can see, right there, what its ratings are.
Jeff knew this would push both Amazon and their partners to continually push for better, never being satisfied with the status quo.
3. Invent boldly
Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better. Your desire to delight customers should drive you to invent on their behalf.
Remember Henry Ford’s quote: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Customers are never truly satisfied, but they also aren’t always sure what is driving their dissatisfaction.
In that first letter to his new investors, Jeff wrote that at Amazon, they would make bold decisions. They wouldn’t play it safe with timidity. He mandated a focus on the long term, not the short term. They would constantly invent for the customer, innovating in ways unheard of.
My challenge this week isn’t just for you, but for me.
I was inspired by Jeff to do some real soul-searching of our customer-obsession. So, here at Terminus, we are implementing all sorts of new customer-obsessions in 2019 — for example, our new Customer of the Month program, which you’ll hear about soon.
So I’ll challenge you with the same challenge that’s been haunting me:
Are you truly customer-obsessed?