Is your company obsessed with your customers?

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Let me take a few minutes to share lessons from an interesting interview with the founder of A few minutes into the discussion at the Internet Association Gala 2017, Jeff Bezos, shares the secrets of Amazon’s success. The beauty behind the success of most great companies is that the reasons are so simple. The secrets are so obvious, you can hardly consider them secrets. Amazons secret sauce is the same.

Jeff outlined a few very simple principles behind Amazon’s success. These principles earned him the title of the richest man in America for the first-time.

1) Amazons culture does not simply focus on customer experience. They turn this statement into a passion with a focus on ‘Customer Obsession.’ There are different models that different companies use instead like; competitor obsession, product obsession, industry obsession and so on.

2) Even if customers are happy, they still want something better. It is Amazon’s job to constantly invent new things that provide an even better customer experience.

3) Don’t focus on the short term, have a long-term view. Have a five-year view. Don’t just look at having a good next Quarter. He mentioned that quarter results are already baked. Quarter results are based on management decisions years ago. Focusing on the future changes the way you plan and focus your energy.

4) Experimentation and failing is supported in Amazon. Innovation goes together with customer obsession.

5) Identify 2-3 big ideas and force great execution. For Amazon, it’s low prices, fast delivery, and vast selection. Ten years from today no customer in his right mind would go to Amazon and request a slower delivery. No customer will request for higher prices and less selection. These are obvious things. Big ideas are often so obvious that we don’t see them.

6) Most overnight success takes about ten years. Hard work and perseverance is needed to create an ‘overnight’ success.

Companies cannot claim that their Invention is disruptive. New products and services are not and cannot be disruptive. Only customer acceptance is disruptive. Why are customers going to like it? Why would customers buy your product or service?

Lots of people dispense advise and tips. However, when the tip comes from someone valued at $109 Billion running a 22-year-old company valued at $702.5 Billion then one thing is for certain. The tip may be worth thinking about from the perspective of our own companies.

We are only as good as our people

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If there is one thing that a first-time manager or leader needs to comprehend deep in their heart is that we are only as good as our people. Jack Welch, one of the best management gurus, rightfully said that 80% of a great manager’s job is people.

A great manager spends most of his/her time interviewing and screening candidates, mentoring high potential employees, providing performance feedback, developing people, motivating the team, understanding their needs, providing them the necessary information to perform their jobs.

It is quite unfortunate that today’s managers and leaders do not spend enough time on people. Their lack of attention and focus on developing their people creates a vicious circle. Since they do not spend time developing their people, they end up doing their direct reports job. When they do their direct reports job, their direct reports do not develop. When their direct reports stagnate, they cannot perform as expected. Since they cannot perform as expected, their boss (you) end up doing their jobs and back to square one again.

We often think that doing the job of our employee is faster than taking the time developing our direct reports to do the tasks. We think that if we delegate the work, they will probably do a bad job and we will end-up re-doing the work. Our false logic dictates that if this is the case then we might as well save time and do the job myself.

Great managers think long term. Great leaders think about sustainable solutions and not just band aids. When we spend time and a lot of effort developing our direct reports, we are investing in a better future for us and the company. Eventually, our direct reports will do such a great job that we can set them on auto-pilot. This will allow us the time to do what we should be doing, leading and developing our people.

You and your company cannot go wrong when you focus on your people agenda 0 selecting, developing and promoting the right people.

Customer Service Recovery

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Customer service, customer obsession, customer experience are buzz words that are prevalent nowadays. It is very important, even critical, for companies to be customer-centric. No customers mean no revenues. Simply, the goal is to attract customers, keep them coming back and get them to refer us to their friends.

However, we sometimes fail in our delivery of service. What do we do then? How do we recover irate customers? Customers that we failed to service correctly. We have two options; we recover them or we don’t.

We were at Pizza Hut Robinsons Galleria three days ago. Our experience with that branch was terrible. A spoon drops in front of a server as she finishes taking our order. She simply ignores it, does not bother picking the spoon from the floor and walks away. We needed to remind them about the mushroom soups we ordered. The soup (appetizer) was not served at the start of the meal but in the middle. The chicken we ordered was served after we finished our large size pizzas – two of them in fact. As expected, we could not eat the chicken we ordered anymore.

As we were leaving we passed by the restaurant manager who’s back was turned to us. He did not bother thanking us for coming. The restaurant manager was busy scrolling through his Facebook account.

Yesterday, we went to a newly opened restaurant – DC Superheroes Café. It was the first day of their soft opening. As expected, we faced a lot of issues. However, the difference in service recovery between the Café and Pizza Hut was glaring. Pizza Hut did not bother recovering their unhappy customers.

DC Superheroes Café clearly showed great effort apologizing for their short-comings and making up for it. The owners themselves walked over to apologize and asked for our suggestions. The servers kept their smiles as they tried their best to cope up with the process inefficiencies. By the end of our meal, the owner of the Café had become chummy with our ten-year-old son. As we left we are more forgiving of the issues we faced with DC Superheroes Café. We will be dropping by again the next time we are in SM MegaMall.

Customer Service Recovery at its best and worst. Service Recovery makes for a huge difference in customer experience.

Do you have a Service Recovery policy or process in place?