Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, in his 2016 letter to shareholders, reflects on staying vital, fresh and customer focused as a business. (What he calls "Day 1") "There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality. Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here's the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great."
In the weeks to come, I would like to piggyback on this theme and discuss ten ways to build a company-wide customer obsession in 2019.
But what is "customer obsession," you ask? Customer Obsession is a top-down, company-wide spirit, focus, and priority of delighting customers.
It starts with leadership. From the CEO to the 1st line supervisor, there is a consistent example of treating employees well. Albert Schweitzer is right, "leadership is example." Employees do what's caught not taught. I remember being in Denver at a small gift shop and talking to the owner. "Your employees are fantastic!" How do you motivate this kind of caring service and attention to detail?" Suzie (the owner) replied, "I learned early on to treat my employees like gold! They turn around and treat the customer like gold!" J.W. Marriot reminds us that you can't create happy customers with unhappy employees.
  • Communicating respect
  • Listening
  • Keeping our promises
  • Encouragement
  • Tactful feedback
  • A fair wage
  • Showing compassion
  • Keeping our attitude positive and helpful
  • Taking responsibility (rather than blaming) when things go wrong
These are wonderful qualities of effective leaders that cultivate a company-wide customer obsession.