What Is Customer Obsession, and How Do You Build It?
The No. 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive compulsive focus on the customer.
We are not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with the customer, and we work backwards.
We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient. The most important thing: Focus obsessively on the customer.
We have the good fortune of a large, inventive team and a patient, pioneering, customer-obsessed culture – great innovations, large and small, are happening every day on behalf of customers and at all levels throughout the company. The decentralized distribution of invention throughout the company – not limited to the company’s senior leaders – is the only way to get robust, high-throughput innovation. What we’re doing is challenging and fun – we get to work in the future.
These are four iconic quotes on customer obsession by Jeff Bezos.
Customer focus is great. Customer obsession is even better – Gibson Biddle, Former VP Product, Netflix.
Amazon and Netflix are two organizations known for being customer-obsessed, and these quotes aptly define that obsession.
Let us take a moment to define customer obsession.
What Is Customer Obsession?
Customer Obsession is a philosophy that places the customer at the center of all decision-making processes and activities. It goes beyond simply providing good customer service and focuses on deeply understanding and fulfilling customer needs and desires.
Customer Obsession Examples
Let us talk about three examples of customer obsession.
In 2011, Amazon launched its first tablet generation at only $139, which was $200 cheaper than the cheapest iPad.
Bezos commented, “We are selling premium products at non-premium costs. We are selling the tablets at break-even. But unlike other companies, we opt to make a profit when people use the product, not when they buy it.”
Being customer-obsessed will make the wealth slowly, but it is safer and will continue to peak.
The four-seat Tesla sports car, The Roadster 2020, reaches 60 mph in 1.9 seconds and exceeds 250 mph top speed. Any other car with its features costs no less than half a million dollars! But Tesla offers free shipping around the U.S. and six months of free charging in Tesla’s charging stations, and the car costs only $200,000, which is a very low price compared to other cars in the same category.
Tesla provides high-quality products, low prices for slight income, and extra services if possible. This has made them one of the richest companies in a very short period of time, with an endless list of new inbound leads joining your customers’ community.
This is going to be a plug-in from my side.
We at ClearTouch understood that customers who opt for contact center platforms always want customizations to be done to fit their process. This was causing a huge dent in their cash flow as the customization costs were very high.
We believe in the subscription model, where we bundle everything. So, we decided to include the customizations as a part of our deployment. We made customizations absolutely free, which made it interesting for our customers.
In all three examples, customers were at the center of the decision-making process, where the entire focus was on making it easy for the customers, not easier.
These are great examples of being customer obsessive.
How Do You Go About Building Customer Obsession as a Culture?
Customer obsession is not the responsibility of individuals or teams, and it is the responsibility of the entire organization. We will discuss six ways that have worked for us in building a customer-obsessive culture.
1. Fix It Now Mentality
Our platform allows multiple reporting formats that are configurable. One of our customers requested a format that was not supported, and he wanted it immediately.
Our support and development teams were busy doing other projects and implementations. We didn’t want to jump on this request of the customer. However, our boss wanted us to drop everything and ensure that the report format the customer requested was supported.
This is how the conversation went.
Me: We have 100s of reports available, and the customer is particular about this report format
Me: All our people are busy doing other projects, and I cannot pull anyone out to deliver this report feature.
Boss: That cannot be true. We have a paying customer who needs this, which should be a priority.
Me: This request is only from one customer
Me: Can we buy some time and do this?
Boss: Fix it now!
I was happy that my boss cared so my about customers, and this conversation became a benchmark for every customer request.
We always have this ‘fix it now’ mentality.
2. All of Us Talk to Customers
While we have a dedicated support and customer success team, we don’t restrict to these teams when it comes to conversing with our customers.
All of us believe in the saying, be close to your customers. Our development team, while adding a new feature, stays in touch with our customers to understand the customer problems, unblock them by giving them immediate support, and change the product so that customers don’t run into the same problem.
The entire team looks forward to having conversations with customers. We look at every opportunity to talk and enhance our customer relationships.
3. The Importance of Intuitiveness
I believe that the platform’s intuitiveness is critical to adoption. People respond intuitively to how something feels, and you can’t fake it.
We want our customers to have a feel of the intuitiveness of our platform. So, we provide them with a POC they can use for a few days and feel comfortable with the product.
Even during the POC, we spend considerable time figuring out their needs and configuring them in our platform. This allows them to evaluate our platform based on their success metrics and not what we define.
4. Building Long-Term Relationships
We go beyond responding to customer requests and aim to anticipate their future needs. Our product roadmap is curated based on customer conversations and surveys we conduct.
Besides, we try to stay ahead of evolving customer preferences and market trends, offer innovative solutions, and exceed customer expectations.
For instance, we allow our customers to scale up and down per their business needs. We don’t tie them to contracts, licenses, or minimum guarantees. We are truly a subscription business that allows organizations to add and reduce their needs at the click of a button.
This provides our customers the flexibility and fosters long-term relationships with them.
5. Employee Empowerment
Employee empowerment entails equipping them with the tools, training, and authority to make decisions and take actions to prioritize the customer’s best interests.
Let me give you an example.
Recently, we had a request from a customer in the collections domain. Their agents were productive for only 2 hours and wanted to increase it to 3 hours and above. They had 30 agents, and their connect ratio was 1:15 (one call gets connected for every 15 calls dialed). To keep all 30 agents busy all the time, we had to make 450 calls, which meant 450 channels to make calls.
Our implementation team was empowered to make that call and ensured all 30 agents were kept busy by using 450 channels at a time.
This allowed the customer to increase their average agent talk times from 2 hours to 4.5 hours.
6. Customer SLAs Are in Hours
The biggest benefit we provide our customers is our ability to handle their requests in hours, not days.
We haven’t had a customer churn from us in the last six-plus years. The reason is our ability to offer them support. They don’t have to go through complex ticketing systems that spew messages like, “We have received your request, and your ticket number is XXXXX. While we understand the urgency of your needs, allow us 48 hours to respond to your request.”
Instead, they can directly reach our people by phone, email, SMS, and WhatsApp 24×7, and the customer’s requests are addressed in hours.
We keep it up close and personal.
Overall, customer obsession is a holistic approach that permeates every aspect of a business, from strategy and product development to marketing and support.
Customer obsession aims to create a customer-centric ecosystem that continually adapts and evolves to meet changing customer needs, preferences, and expectations.