Amazon made the concept of a customer-focused company sexy. But the truth is that these types of firms were around well before Jeff Bezos was even a gold-spangled twinkle in his father’s eyes.
Interestingly, though, customer-focused companies don’t always achieve immediate success. They aren’t quick out of the blocks and don’t always fire the imagination of consumers, at least not at first. Instead, it takes them many years to gain traction.
Just look at Amazon. It took the company nearly two decades to turn a sustainable profit. It wasn’t until 2015 that the share price really began to rocket.
But why will Amazon continue to thrive for many decades to come? It’s not because it is doing anything particularly original. There are plenty of eCommerce stores and server farms out there. Instead, it’s how it commits to its customers. People just trust the brand to deliver, and it does every time. That’s really the key difference.
The truth is that any business can be customer-focused. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, even if you’re high up in the B2B value chain. The more value you can deliver to the people who buy from you, the more often they will want to keep coming back.
All brands can come to recognize that offering customers and shareholders value is ultimately the same thing. Returns only come from happy customers, so the best businesses are always those that go the extra mile, from investors’ perspectives or that of customers.
How you go further for your customers is very much up to you. For some, it might mean installing Armco barriers to facilitate better traffic flow through their premises. For others, it could be setting up one-click purchases online. Whatever it is, make it easy. Lead the customer to conversion and don’t leave anything to chance. Think of things from their perspective. Get inside their heads.
Getting everyone on your team to care about the customer is the most common roadblock that stands in entrepreneurs’ way. You might love the idea of turning your business into a customer-first enterprise, but your colleagues might not. They may even feel entitled to the customers they have.
The trick here is to get the entire team invested in the idea that the customer matters. The more you can instil this belief, the more successful you’ll be. Creating a customer-obsessed culture is about really getting people to understand why they are showing up to work in the first place. It’s not just to get a paycheck. It’s about offering people real value and improving their lives. Employees who understand this are often considerably harder working than those who are there to do the minimum and get paid for it.
How do you build a customer-focused culture? It’s all about putting subtle social pressure on people. One method is to ask people why they’ve come to work in the morning. The goal should be to focus them on serving the customer, instead of themselves.
You can also produce quarterly videos, highlighting how the hard work of people in your organisation is really helping to make a difference in the world.