You can’t argue with Amazon’s success. It’s not just about its bottom line or stock price. It’s about a company that has become a part of people’s daily lives. Its relentless focus on the customer has been, and continues to be, one of the reasons for its success. While most companies would like to have an Amazon-like focus on their customers, many fall short. That kind of customer service goes beyond the front-line customer experience. It’s in the company’s culture. It takes the willingness to forgo higher profits to invest in the customer experience. It starts with a leader, like Jeff Bezos, who makes the conscious and unwavering decision to give perfect customer service. Is “perfect” customer service possible? Maybe … maybe not. But consider a Bezos quote that gives you a peek into how he thinks:
“The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.”
Do you look up to Amazon? Do you admire how it has grown from a small Internet bookseller to the ginormous company it is today?
Some of you reading this article might dislike Amazon. You may not like its business model. You may hate that it has become a disrupter to multiple industries. It’s your choice to do business with Amazon or not, but you can’t argue with its success. Like it or not, you can’t help but be impressed by what it has done – and in a relatively short period of time.
So, let’s flip it around. What can you and your company do to be a company that Amazon would look up to and respect?
That’s the question that was posed to Judd Marcello, EVP of Global Marketing at Cheetah Digital, a global marketing solutions provider who understands how to deliver a customer experience that even Amazon would admire. Below are some of the comments, along with my thoughts:
- Lean into your strengths –Amazon’s strength is in the online world; however, it is moving into the brick-and-mortar space. It opened Amazon Go, it is opening bookstores, and it acquired Whole Foods. If you’re in the retail world, you can play defense, or take a look at what you’re best at and what makes you different. “It’s impossible to be another Amazon. Nor does anyone need another Amazon,” says Marcello. “Retailers should capitalize on what makes them different and highlight what they have that Amazon doesn’t.” Play to those strengths and make sure your customers know that these are the reasons to do business with you.
- Know the future of your industry – It’s an old saying, almost a cliché, but it’s true: The only constant in life is change. Are you going where your customers are going, or are you comfortable and complacent? Business moves too fast to find yourself playing catch-up. Study the trends in your industry. Know where your business is going. Keep up, or even push to get ahead and be an innovator.
- Make it personal – If there was ever a role model for personalization, it is Amazon. It is the master at using customer data to create the most personalized experience on the Internet. But, using data doesn’t just apply online. It applies to any type of business – online, offline, retail or B2B. “Customer data is vastly under-used. It tells retailers so much about where they can improve or what their customers want, and merchants can use that data to make a big impact on their business,” says Marcello. Use customer data to know your customers, and create experiences that make them feel like you truly understand them.
- Go beyond expectations – To compete with giants like Amazon, companies from any and all industries must not only meet customer expectations, but exceed them. Customers expect more than they used to. They no longer compare you only to your direct competition. They compare you to companies like … Amazon. Your customer service is being compared to the best customer service a consumer has ever received, be it from Amazon or the nice salesperson who just sold him or her a pair of shoes.
- Be consistent across channels – One of the mistakes companies make is to be good in one channel and lacking in another. If you’re known for great service on your showroom floor and decide to move into the online world, you must have an experience that matches up with your existing reputation. Anything less will reduce the reasons your customers enjoy doing business with you. Marcello comments, “Customers don’t view online and physical stores as separate entities, and neither should retailers. Consistency across channels can increase brand loyalty and keep your customers coming back for more.”
- Build strong relationships – Customers aren’t account numbers. They are people, and expect to be treated like people. They can become your fans – and even your brand advocates. Invest in the relationship. In most industries, your customers have more choices than ever. Marcello adds, “All of your competitors are a click away for your customers. If you don’t build a strong relationship with them, someone else will.” Give them a reason to stay.
Would you like to be a company that customers love and other companies look up to? Use these ideas to do what you do best, moving forward and innovating, always keeping in mind that the customer has to be the focus. Remember, they are counting on you to be as good as any other company they do business with.