thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

How to Answer Questions

By on September 9, 2009

Jeff Bezos continues to be a successful, strong brand because it always answers its business questions—strategic and day-to-day—with a solution that includes “the customer.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO,  has given the world insight into how he leads the Amazon organization through a series of interviews over the years. I believe the best is “The Institutional Yes” (Harvard Business Review, October 2007). In the article, Bezos describes himself as “congenitally customer-focused.” In its processes and culture, his entire company earns that customer-friendly status over and over, thanks to his leadership and strong sense of abundance for the customer.

Because of the fast-changing markets that Amazon operates in, Bezos believes that it helps to base your strategy on things that won’t change. He asks his senior team “What’s not going to change in the next 5 years?” Invariably the answers always revolve around customer insights. For example, they understand that customers will continue to want lower prices, so they must always be working on defect reduction and higher efficiency. Customers will also want greater convenience and more transparency; therefore, suppliers cannot be satisfied with the status quo. In a world in which the tempo of change is accelerating and wrong directions are taken too often, customers are the constant that can keep our decisions grounded.

Bezos also mentions a Warren Buffett story, in which he has three boxes on his desk: In-box, Out-box and Too-hard. He follows that story by saying, “Whenever we’re facing one of those too-hard problems…and can’t decide what to do, we try to convert it into a straightforward problem by saying, “Well, what’s better for the customer?”

What a great message. The answers become much simpler when we think like our customers.

In order to grow, we need to constantly question what we are doing and how we can improve on today’s systems. It is a valuable reminder to all of us that the answers to our business questions should be customer-centered. In fact, that may be the only approach in the fast-changing world in which we live. Organizational performance will be exponentially stronger if all employees feel they are doing everything they can for the customer.

Amazon has a powerful mission to uplift customer-centricity, not just within their company, but “across the entire business world.” Jeff Bezos wants them to “be stubborn of the vision; be flexible of the details.” And, answer all of your questions with the customer in mind.


Leave a Reply

Tell Us How We Can Help
We love to have conversations with individuals who want their organizations to become customer-centered market leaders. Please send us your thoughts and questions.

Customer 3D
120 Allens Creek Road
Rochester, NY 14618
[800] 380-2308

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.