I recently wrote a post about Amazon.com’s customer-centric blueprint that examines Jeff Bezos’ annual letter to shareholder. It’s no surprise that Amazon.com does a lot of things right, but Bezos provides some insight into how the retail leader operates. There are a lot of good lessons for other companies. Here are some things that marketers can learn from Bezos’ comments.
Excerpt from Bezos letter: “Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.”
Lesson for marketers: Bezos understands the value of Amazon’s most critical asset, customer loyalty, which I’ve defined as the willingness to consider, trust, and forgive. That focus is what put Amazon.com on the top of the retail sector in the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings. Marketers must focus on building that customer loyalty asset with the knowledge that it will generate the best returns for all stakeholders in the long run.
Excerpt from Bezos letter: “As regular readers of this letter will know, our energy at Amazon comes from the desire to impress customers rather than the zeal to best competitors… One advantage—perhaps a somewhat subtle one—of a customer-driven focus is that it aids a certain type of proactivity. When we’re at our best, we don’t wait for external pressures. We are internally driven to improve our services, adding benefits and features, before we have to.”
Lesson for marketers: Too many companies overly focus on their competition, a process that leads to collective mediocrity. Marketers must focus their energies, from learning to innovating, on three questions: Who are our customers? What do they want and need? How can we provide them even more value?
Excerpt from Bezos letter: “Our business approach is to sell premium hardware at roughly breakeven prices. We want to make money when people use our devices, not when people buy our devices. We think this aligns us better with customers. For example, we don’t need our customers to be on the upgrade treadmill. We can be very happy to see people still using four-year-old Kindles!”
Lesson for marketers: If you want to align your interests with your customers, then marketers must create pricing models where your companies only make money when customers gain value. This is an increasingly important concept as more products and services are connected online where usage and value can be more closely monitored.
Excerpt from Bezos letter: “As proud as I am of our progress and our inventions, I know that we will make mistakes along the way—some will be self-inflicted, some will be served up by smart and hard-working competitors. Our passion for pioneering will drive us to explore narrow passages, and, unavoidably, many will turn out to be blind alleys. But—with a bit of good fortune—there will also be a few that open up into broad avenues.”
Lesson for marketers: Every company makes mistakes, but those that consistently meet the needs of customers earn their forgiveness. That’s why Amazon scores so high in the Temkin Forgiveness Ratings. Marketers who want to create innovative offerings will be more successful if they first establish trust with customers, creating a situation where they will be more willing to try new things and overlook miscues along the way. This also allows employees to have the confidence to try new things.
The bottom line: Amazon.com provides a great blueprint for marketers.
|Bruce Temkin, managing partner and customer experience transformist at Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting company. He is widely viewed as a leading expert in customer experience.|