As the retail environment rapidly evolves to meet the expectations of today’s empowered consumers, one of the largest brands grabbing nationwide attention also happens to be one of the most mysterious––especially when it comes to the future. Amazon’s growth from a modest online shopping option to one of the premier eCommerce platforms in the world is a journey its Chairman and CEO, Jeff Bezos says is rooted in its commitment to customers.
Sitting down for a recent 60 Minutes interview, the typically tightlipped Bezos provided a rare glimpse into the rationale behind Amazon’s business model as well as how the strategy will steer the retail giant into other business ventures in the future. For retailers looking to make a splash in the market themselves, his message regarding what should motivate business is particularly useful.
Jeff Bezos Makes The Case for Customer-Driven Strategy
While the investments in innovative solutions Amazon is making are certainly noteworthy and exciting visions of what lies ahead, the most important takeaway for retailers looking to innovate themselves is the idea of robust customer centricity. For those who’ve observed Amazon’s development and looked on in excitement, today the tools are available to become much more than an observer.
When asked how he and his team decide to take on a new opportunity, Bezos finds the motivation to move in certain directions by closely watching the actions of his customers. Put plainly, Amazon “puts the customer at the center of everything they do.” It’s this information that Bezos says gives him a glimpse of what may lie at the end of seemingly dark tunnels. While others aren’t willing to take certain risks, it’s the trust in customer opinion that provides the confidence needed to follow through with a new idea.
Trust Remains One Of The Most Important Elements of Sustained Success
The customer-centric strategy can further be broken down into the fundamental idea of trust between the customer and company. For Bezos, the ability to suspend growth goals in order to protect the fragile state of trust customers form with his company and the service it provides is what sends Amazon ahead of competitors. When others would normally raise prices to reach benchmarks, he keeps them low in order to ensure slight erosion in customer trust doesn’t snowball into a long-term retention problem.
Speaking to Amazon’s physical growth, Bezos says much of Amazon’s profit goes directly back into development projects aimed to take Amazon even closer to its customers. Fulfillment Centers geared around ultra-quick online-to-doorstep delivery and pickup services are one such investment Bezos considers an important link between online and offline convenience.
How Retailers Can Start Putting These Strategies Into Motion Today
Although it’s always interesting to peel back the cover and look inside successful companies, Bezos’s explanation highlights a business model many retailers can use to their own advantage. No matter the size of your company, turning to your customers to inform you of what next step to take can be a viable solution for any retailer. Particularly for those who are sensing a disconnect growing between your company and its audience, an effort to let your customers decide the next step can reestablish the delicate sense of trust that may have started to fade.
If a customer-centric plan seems to fit your broader customer experience needs, there are ways to start working towards a greater focus on customer-driven direction. The first step should involve customer evaluation:
Invest in a customer experience evaluation process
In order to make the best possible decisions around your customers, you first need to gather accurate, actionable insights about what they’re pleased with, where they’d like to see improvement and the ideas they have regarding what they’d like to see next. Whether you engage with trained and certified mystery shoppers capable of providing detailed customer experience reports, a customer intercepts program geared to capture reactions just after customers leave the store, or customer satisfaction surveys tailored to your in-store experience, this is a key step to defining exactly where your customers stand. Depending on the needs of your particular company, these customer evaluation methods provide leadership teams with the kinds of customer experience feedback gathered directly from the source.