Customer Obsession - How to Master this Leadership Principle

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Andrea's Headshot by Andrea April 01, 2022
Customer Obsession - How to Master this Leadership Principle

Amazon’s leadership principle #13 is Customer Obsession [link].

The Customer Obsession leadership principle is a testament to Amazon’s commitment to delivering the best possible experience for customers. It builds on their other legendary business principles such as a bias for action and earn trust. Customer obsession means that every employee at Amazon is dedicated to providing an extraordinary experience for customers whenever they interact with the company. It’s the very thing that makes you go back to Amazon for your shopping!

What is Amazon’s Customer Obsession leadership principle?\

Customer Obsession means you always start with the customer and work backward. It’s a simple statement but it can be hard to do in practice. The key is to focus on what the customer needs, not what they want. This can mean saying no to things they want or diverting them to something else.

A leader who is obsessed with customers can see things from their perspective and understand the business through their eyes. He or she obsesses over competitors and has a strong understanding of all the products in the market.

Why does Customer Obsession matter at Amazon?

Amazon is known for its customer-centric culture. This is largely because of the company’s top leadership principle – Customer Obsession.

The Leadership Principles at Amazon are a set of guidelines that every employee must follow and use as a foundation while making decisions at work. These principles are not meant to be followed by just senior employees but by everyone in the organization, from the newly hired MBA graduate to Senior Vice President.

As a result, all business decisions in Amazon are heavily biased towards customers rather than competitors or internal stakeholders. This along with the other benefits of Customer Obsession has helped Amazon create and sustain a competitive advantage over other companies.

As a customer-centric organization, Amazon has an advantage in the competitive landscape that is becoming increasingly more competitive by the day. Customers have multiple options, and they can take their business elsewhere with just a few clicks. And if you’re not paying attention to your customers daily, you’re likely missing out on making valuable connections and opportunities to offer them what they need. Delivering to your customers and going the extra mile can help keep you at the top of your mind. For Amazon and other customer-centric organizations, this is mission-critical to keeping their business thriving.

How do you develop Customer Obsession in your professional environment?

1. Ask yourself “what would my customer want?” every time you make a decision or make a suggestion. What will make them happy? What will satisfy their needs?
2. Keep abreast of the changes in your industry, so you can stay ahead of your competitors and offer products/services that meet your customer’s evolving needs and expectations.
3. Pay attention to details and don’t overlook the small things that can have a big impact on your customer’s experience with your product/service e.g., fast deliveries, good packaging, and easy returns.

Things to remember for Customer Obsession:

  • If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.
  • Customers’ wants and needs change fast, so we need to be agile and stay close to them.
  • Everything we do should be aimed at satisfying our customers’ needs.
  • We should be constantly inventing on behalf of our customers.
  • Every day is Day 1. We approach every task with a beginner’s mind, with the question “How would I do this if this were the first time?”

Customer Obsession Interview Questions:

  • Most of us at one time have felt frustrated or impatient when dealing with customers. Can you tell me about a time when you felt this way and how you dealt with it?
  • Give me an example of a change you implemented in your current team or organisation to meet the needs of your customers. What has been the result?
  • When do you think it’s ok to push back or say no to an unreasonable customer request?
  • Why do you think Customer Obsession is essential?
  • How would you rate yourself out of ten for being a customer-obsessed individual?
  • Do you have any examples of how you have been successful at putting customers first?
  • How would you define good customer service?
  • When you’re working with a large number of customers, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to all of them. How do you prioritise different customer needs?

We suggest having some examples of good and bad-experience customer interactions (on their part, not yours!) readily available and well-thought out ways you tackled the issue at hand while leaving the customer happy. Ideally this outcome left the company in a good state as well so make sure to answer that as well!

 

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