Customer-Focused vs Competition-Focused

If you’ve been fortunate enough to sit in on lectures and training from visionary cloud services companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), throughout the training, the Amazon/AWS leadership principle of “customer obsession” will be referenced. The principle states that “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”  It is the principle’s last sentence – being customer-focused versus competition-focused – that truly distinguishes Amazon within the industry.

When you are competitor-focused, where is your energy directed? It is directed toward beating the competition, not on serving customers. When you are customer-focused, where is your energy directed? It is directed toward making customers say, “wow.” In fact, Amazon’s mission statement is to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” Customers are never truly satisfied. They always want higher quality products and services delivered faster, cheaper and better. Relentless focus on continually satisfying customers is where energy should be directed. Other thoughts:

  • Always ask customers for feedback. Feedback helps develop and shape strategy to better serve them. Feedback helps companies evolve from thinking about customers to thinking like customers.
  • Being customer-focused is easy to say, but difficult to do. Companies must institutionalize the customer being at the center of everything that they do.
  • Bring an empty chair into meetings to represent the most important person in the room – the customer. The empty chair will ensure that everyone remains conscious about how their decisions impact customers.
  • Make taking care of customers your personal obsession. Treat them the way that you would want to be treated. If you do not take care of customers, someone else will (remember: customers pay the bills).
  • What should business leaders bet on? They should bet on what customers are telling them. They should listen to customers. They should invest where the customer is going, not where the customer has been.