Jeff Bezos started out to build the most customer centric company on the planet. He started a little company called Amazon, and his idea seems to be working out pretty well.
Why? Because Amazon simply makes it easy to do business with them (i.e., customer centric). Someone once said you can only have two of these three in your business model: fast, cheap, and good. They were wrong–Amazon has all three.
Here are the top 3 reasons Amazon is so successful, and take special note that they’re all anchored in a strong understanding of human psychology.
Fast. People like to get what they want when they want it; i.e., they like instant gratification.
Cheap. People want a good price; they don’t want to pay too much. Amazon may not always have the very lowest price, but it’s always one of the best.
Good/Service. Amazon treats you like they actually care whether you’re happy. What a novel concept!
As a case study, here’s my recent experience with Amazon vs. one of the Big Box retailers when I set out to buy some relatively hard-to-find specialty items.
The shipping delivery time was 20% longer at Big Box.
The price was 10% higher at Big Box (I was willing to pay it initially because the item was hard to find).
To start, the Amazon website is much more user friendly for finding what you want.
As part of this project, I had to return some items. Big Box customer service told me I’d have to pay for a new item, and then either: 1) pack and ship the item back at my expense and then I’d get a credit when they received it, or 2) make a trip to one of their local retail stores to return the item and get a credit.
I drove to a Big Box store, waited in line for a Returns clerk, waited while he searched for the right order number, then waited some more while he asked around the Returns area to find some tape for the shipping box as part of the transaction. I left with the distinct impression that their whole system is designed to be efficient with their time and money but not with mine.
By contrast, Amazon customer service gave me credit instantly, sent me a replacement part immediately, and gave me 30 days to return the original item–all at no cost to me. I dropped off the item at a UPS Store and they packed and shipped it for me.
On the way home I’m wondering why I feel less like a criminal when I’m dealing with Amazon…did I suddenly become more honest and trustworthy? Does Amazon actually value me as a customer that much more than Big Box does? I don’t have any doubts, however, about which company I’ll buy from next time.
Give your customers as close to instant gratification as possible without a significant decrease in quality. A good plan executed in a timely manner beats waiting on a perfect plan every time.
Price your products and services fairly to build win-win relationships and create return business. Once your customers see you as greedy, they won’t trust you and they’ll stop buying. On the other extreme, fire your “cheapskate” customers who always want the lowest price and don’t understand value–the time and money they cost you will bankrupt your business over time.
Keep your quality high. Treat people like you want to be treated. Above all else, good customers just want to be treated fairly.