Own the customer relationship: The Jeff Bezos way
If you want to be part of the transaction you need to own the customer relationship. It requires customer engagement, focus, empowerment and loyalty.
For me, “why” customers are buying something is far more interesting than “what” they are buying. “Why” somebody selected my blog to read is intriguing (to me). “Why” customers choose a specific (online) shop is so fascinating.
So, why are so many only focusing on the “what”? Maybe it is because product innovation comes so much easier than customer innovation?
For Amazon, it is vital to maintain the customer relationship.
Have you ever bought a fold-up chair on Amazon (or any other top-selling item)? Can you remember the brand? I am sure you remember the ease of the last action of the process, the convenient delivery at your front door and the ability to monitor each step of the transaction.
To own the customer is hard work.
Many factories use online (or physical) shops to reach customers. For a manufacturer, the biggest concern is to get a space with those that own the customer relationship—selling as many products as possible at a minuscule margin. In many cases, the only thing that they want to focus on is delivering the best product in the most cost-effective way.
The fact is, grabbing a customer’s attention and building trust is not easy. To give them choices is difficult. Hence, to own the customer is damn hard work. For many, the value chain is a long and winding road. But it is at the end of this chain where one captures value. And so many forget this.
Because, for that, you need to own the customer relationship.
Guidelines to control the customer relationship
Keep the Customer Focused
We all know too well that you need to put the customer at the centre of everything you do. But we also know that it is not that simple. It takes a lot of effort to own the customer. Many business owners tell the world that the customer is king, and even make it part of their mission statement. And then we are surprised when we see companies failing at this. In reality, it is often only lip service.
Unfortunately, most companies get so caught up in the day-to-day activities that they forget about the most important stakeholder, the customer. They forget to engage with customers in the value delivery phase. Sometimes companies just don’t have the ability or skills to listen.
For most businesses, to focus on the customer is an irritating activity; it takes effort and consumes time. However, to own the customer relationship could be your most prominent marketing strategy. The reason, the customer has the final say where they want to buy next.
Empower the Customer
What is your strategy? Are you only selling products to customers at the best margin possible, or are you empowering them to make the best buying decision? As an introvert, I am so glad that I don’t have to listen to sales representatives any more. Being pushed into a buying decision is frustrating. In many cases, it bordered on bullying. It destroys trust.
I want unbiased information when I shop. Available at my fingertips. Maybe the best places today to access the right information where and when you need it is online. But there is no reason why a shop can empower you in a brick and mortar setting.
Amazon was the pioneer at displaying product reviews. Without online reports, online shopping is like touching in the dark, and Amazon was fast to recognise this barrier. Today, online surveys and instant customer feedback are standard on most e-commerce platforms.
Earn your customer's loyalty
For me, customer satisfaction happens when I get what I was hoping for, product and service wise. Dissatisfaction occurs when the two parts are not aligned. So often the marketers put a lot of effort into the promise, but then the delivery on the promise falls short.
We also know the customer has two options, either walk away or complain. Most customers won’t tell you when they are unhappy. Or rather, not until it is too late. The fact is, frustration will build up until it boils over. And, in one blow the loyalty is gone, out at the door and into the next (online) shop.
But those that speak-up are the real loyal ones. They’ve chosen to stay, use their voice to help you become better. There are various ways for you to assist loyal customers in criticising you. One method is through non-intrusive and easy-to-use satisfaction surveys.
Amazon uses complaints to improve their services and relationship with customers. They use surveys to understand what brings customers to them and what pushes them away.
Bottom Line. Too often, we fail at seeing the customer. We fail at stepping up and own that relationship. We know too well that deep relationships are complicated. Besides, the virtual world does bring a new dimension for the good or the bad.
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