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5 ways Jeff Bezos changed the customer experience

Door Renée Müller

4.3 min read

6 December 2021

Jeff Bezos - Amazon

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Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos announced that he will resign as CEO of Amazon.

He was responsible for the tremendous growth of the online bookstore into the world’s largest brand and made Amazon the market leader in e-commerce, cloud computing, entertainment and package delivery.

Amazon is now worth billions and Jeff is said to have a fortune of about 200 billion dollars. He has so much money that he now takes trips into space for fun.

How did he manage that? By excelling in customer experience.

Here are five ways Jeff Bezos transformed the customer experience forever.

1. Obsessed with your customers

Jeff Bezos has always been praised for his stance on the customer experience. Back in the early ’00s, he understood the importance of putting the customer experience first.

“The reason we’ve outperformed our Internet peers over the last six years is because we focus like a laser on the customer experience,” he said then.

And he went a step further, developing an obsession. Just being customer-focused is not enough, it is not an attitude you can teach yourself. According to Jeff, your customers are never really satisfied. There is always a learning curve or a knowledge gap to close. If you do this, it will lead to more innovation and, in the longer term, to more sales.

Jeff: “We live in an era where the customer rules. You can no longer interrupt the customer experience by pushing your agenda. You have to learn to add something to the customer experience in order to ‘pull in’ customers. If you want to do that well, understanding the customer’s point of view is really vital.”

2. Make customer needs the engine of innovation

When Amazon started in 1994, the idea that you could order something over the internet was a cautious leap in the dark. However, Jeff Bezos realized early on that this was going to be a big need and built a company based on taking innovation risks.

Customers had to learn to trust online shopping, a challenge Jeff met largely through an emphasis on customer service.

Although it started with books, this was never the endgame for Amazon. The company expanded into other products and services to meet customer needs, such as streaming and digital downloads. In addition, Amazon has its own hardware, such as the Kindle e-reader.

What you learn from this? Never get comfortable with your success. Customer preferences evolve and continue to do so, so let your innovation be driven by their needs.”

Jeff Bezos - Amazon

3. Be where the customer is

A significant part of Jeff Bezos’s success also comes from a keen understanding of the need to be where the customer is.

Amazon took huge risks in its development, but took a complete omnichannel approach to the customer experience. For example, Jeff decided to try physical shops, just at a time when many other retail companies were shutting down physical operations. However, Jeff believed that Amazon needed to be more present outside the digital space.

He also took risks in developing the customer service tools, such as Mayday. Mayday promised to put users of the Kindle Fire tablets in touch with agents within video in just 15 seconds.

And the most significant change? That was the introduction of new channels, such as the emerging voice assistant market. With Alexa, anyone can connect with Amazon, wherever they are in the world.

4. Offer a seamless experience

Part of Alexa’s appeal is how seamless it is. Amazon became famous for its seamless experience, and despite critical voices, Jeff’s vision has always been about ease of use.

One-click checkout and Amazon Pay are examples of that seamless experience. They represent a commitment to speed, choice, convenience and accessibility.

In 2020, Amazon launched a new chatbot. This one does not rely on AI or natural language processing, it does not try to mimic a live conversation with the customer or solve a huge number of situations. It is vigilant enough to guide the customer quickly on the right path to the solution.

In an age of AI and voice assistants, you sometimes forget that the most efficient solution is often a simple one.

5. Give your customer a chair

Literally.

Maybe a bit of an apocryphal story, but it’s one that underscores the commitment to the customer experience.

Jeff always left a single chair empty in the boardroom.

It stood for the presence of the customer. Whatever the subject at hand, it always came down to the question: ‘what’s best for our customer?

The empty chair represented much more than a void at the table. He emphasised that every business decision affects the most important stakeholder: the customer.

Here, it is crucial to point out that the empty chair shows that the customer experience was a key objective for Amazon, but that this experience must be backed up with action.

For Jeff Bezos, it is a way of visually forcing every participant in the discussion to refer to the customers. Perhaps a little strange, but you have to admit that Jeff’s habits have not done the company any favours.

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