While launching a product, a company has no idea how it is going to be welcomed. There is the excitement of a new product launch and a slight doubt about how well the product would do. What role do customers play in all this? Let’s look into the approaches of two giants who made it big with a sustained focus on customers.
Amazon Co-founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, termed his approach Customer Obsession. According to him, the basic idea behind the success of Amazon should be the intense focus on customers. Here is an excerpt from a letter, he wrote to the shareholders:
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.
As Jeff Bezos considers it, Day 1 companies are the start-up companies. He was inspired by the fact that these companies take high quality as well as high-velocity decisions more easily. So he aspired Amazon to be forever a Day 1 company.
Amazon realized that customers really wanted:
Amazon learned fast, and till date, the company has never failed to deliver the above mentioned. Amazon’s approach has been simple,”…we hope to make money when people (customers) use the devices, not when they buy the devices…”, as said by Jeff Bezos, during his interview with CNN. This has led the company to where it is today.
To start a business with such an approach, just by looking at one example may not seem convincing to you, but Amazon was not the only one who took to this approach.
While Amazon had found the secret of development in customer satisfaction through the customer obsessed approach, there is a certain tech company who found a similar yet, different way.
Apple, unlike Amazon, wasn’t all based on customer’s needs and expectations. One of the boldest statements by the late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs:
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.
One can say that Steve Jobs was totally justified when he made this statement:
You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.
Apple’s approach has been significantly different from Amazon’s. They never based their products or services on customer needs. But, on what their customers experienced after using the products. And then based on their experience, the company, as well as the product, grew. Even now, Apple’s main and sole aim is to give its customers, the best experience ever. From customer issues and emails being addressed by the CEO himself to providing a homely experience to its customers at Apple stores worldwide, Apple has done it all.
As we have learned, Customer obsession is not just listening to your customers daily. It is more of a commitment on your part to not only listen to them but to understand their needs too. A commitment where you are bound to give your customers the best experience and to shape the future of the company and the product based on their demands and reviews.
In the words of Cliff Condon, Forrester, Chief Research Officer, “.. you need to be that really intense sports fan, and your customer needs to be your favorite team…”
Customer Relationship demands a unique approach. It does not involve any mediators as the customers are the direct consumers and the development of the business is dependent on its customers on a large scale. The companies cannot just shift to a new customer base so as to sustain. But the customers can look for alternatives more easily. There can be a lot of reasons to why a company loses its customers. One of the main reasons for this to happen is the inability of the company to manage its customer relationships.
As a result, many Customer Relationship Management tools are developed for businesses to make sure the customers are more than satisfied. These tools enhance the working abilities of Customer Support staff as well as give customers a better experience.
Some of these tools are:
Looking at the above cases, one can easily debate that, following that approach does have some risks involved with it. But, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In the world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”- Mark Zuckerberg.
The thing with the well-established companies, like Amazon or Apple, is that their business strategies and methodologies are well-tested. It gives all the new businesses as well as those who are not satisfied with their current growth, a chance to learn and adapt to them.
Many of the large brands started their journey keeping in mind, if not needs, then reviews of the customers. But one thing remains; sooner or later customer needs will start influencing the path taken by any business.
Hence, you don’t need to just take care of your customers, you need to show them your obsession with their satisfaction and their opinions.
Read more about some of the strategies followed by companies like Apple and Amazon. Tell us your ideas about improving customer satisfaction in eCommerce.
Originally published at wsdesk.com on July 24, 2017.