Amazon regularly appears at the top of the list when customers are asked to rank brands that really understand them and offer a great experience. The latest Forbes magazine features an interview with John Rossman, author of ‘The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind The World’s Most Disruptive Company” in which Rossman uses his own experience of working inside Amazon to detail what it is that they do differently.
I will not just rehash the interview here – you can click here to go and see it on the Forbes site – but I wanted to add my own views on why I think there is an Amazon difference – and two decades on from when Amazon was transforming book sales in the 90s they are continuing to lead and innovate.
- Design services from a customer perspective. This sounds obvious, but compare the Amazon experience to getting a loan with your regular bank using your phone and their mobile website. Now the difference is obvious. Some companies claim to be offering mobile, social, and always-on services and yet they are really just the same old processes pushed to a mobile website. Amazon has been a pioneer of services like ‘one-click’ because they take the ‘what-if’ view of an explorer… what if a customer could clear the entire checkout process with a single click. Why don’t we just do it?
- Use data better than the competition. Knowing your customer is becoming more important than ever, but Amazon has been doing data analysis for years. Think about the offers they send and the recommendations you see in real-time. These are taking your likes, dislikes, shopping history, time of day, season of the year, and weather all into account and creating a truly personalized experience that generates additional sales and a happier customer.
- Constant innovation. Many industry leaders would rest on their laurels, but Amazon constantly takes profit and invests it in innovation. Some analysts have even asked when the company might actually generate big returns because they seem to always just re-invest in building and changing the business. The present wave of change is around drone deliveries with a plan to reduce time from order to delivery to just 30 minutes – that’s going to shake up the entire retail industry.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has always set the tone at Amazon. From the start he always included an empty chair at meetings and referred to it as the customer – the customer was always metaphorically present at executive meetings. Now that the customer experience has risen to the top of the corporate agenda his insight seems visionary.
Bezos knows that just because Amazon is a giant, they cannot rest easy. Customer demands are changing faster than ever, but because he built his company around the customer he can apply the same style of leadership in cloud services or smart home automation as he has to retail. Amazon can grow into new areas of business (and continue to lead) by ensuring these basic principles remain the same.
Photo by Marco Antonio Islas Cruz licensed under Creative Commons.