The hard-hitting reality is that many businesses cannot hope to compete with the likes of Amazon and e-commerce in today’s landscape. Why? Because Amazon values and adheres to a customer-centric mentality first and foremost. Not only does this ensure customers have a great experience, but it also helps structure the inner workings of the company to provide absolute convenience — which is something you must establish as a foundation.
That said, it doesn’t mean you cannot strive to be better and more competitive to this end. You can restructure your company or business in many ways to put your customers front and center.
Why Is Amazon the Example?
Before revisiting your own business and processes, it makes sense to explore why Amazon is so coveted in regards to customer service and experience. Why are they always used as an example, and what makes their mentality and methodologies the key target?
The answer, according to Jeff Bezos, is that he and his company spend time listening to their customers and continuously strive to provide better opportunities and experiences. They achieve this primarily by understanding consumer trends and buying habits, which takes a lot of data and analytics to discern.
They’re at the helm and well beyond almost any other brand or business because they’ve had years to test, develop and perfect the customer service models they adhere to. A company starting out, for example, won’t have the same knowledge and experience available to them as Amazon does, and that matters.
That’s exactly why Amazon holds the crown and is used as the benchmark for customer service: consistency. Learn how and where to adapt your own processes and systems, and then remain loyal to those changes. Eventually, you’ll start to see customer sentiment and your reputation boosted in much the same way Amazon has experienced.
5 Ways to Adopt the Same Customer-First Mentality
The first step of the journey is to define customer centricity as it applies to your business and processes. At the most basic level, how can you adapt and evolve to put your customers front and center?
It’s important to know that “customer-centric” and “customer-focused” are two separate concepts. Customer-focused businesses do just that — they focus only on how they can better serve and provide for their customers. Customer-centric companies, however, apply their customers more like family and include them almost as part of the team. They often go above and beyond what is required to satisfy customers and provide true value-added support. Here’s how you can start.
1. Hire, Train and Deploy the Right People
One of the first things you’ll notice during your interactions with Amazon is that they do not employ or work with sub-par people. Even in their warehouses and fulfillment centers, which are not visible to the public, they train and develop the best workforce possible. And to make things even more efficient, that workforce is supported by automation and advanced robotics platforms.
In short, Amazon aspires to be the best in regards to efficiency and support. This aim allows them to fulfill orders and deliver goods at exceptional rates when compared to the rest of the industry.
It’s crucial that you also hire and train the best and most appropriate people.
2. Celebrate Customer-Friendly Accomplishments
It’s easy to forget that your employees and personnel need support and guidance just as much as your customers. If and when they carry out decisions or actions that are customer-friendly and help give back to your customer base, find a way to celebrate it. Model your internal philosophies, company mission and overall goals with the aim to achieve a customer-centric platform.
There are many ways you can celebrate. A great example is showcasing positive customer feedback with your employees and sharing it with the individuals who made the biggest impact. This process serves as motivation and reward enough to keep people focused and dedicated.
3. Make Sure You Understand Customers
Traditional brick-and-mortar, online or a hybrid of the two doesn’t matter — you still need to understand your customers and what they want if you hope to succeed. Amazon does this through incredibly detailed and reliable data analysis systems, which in turn helps them personalize the experience for every customer who visits their platform.
You must be able to cater to your audience and provide them with what they want most, not just what you think they want. Doing so requires a great deal of engagement, data collection and performance information. But using the right customer metrics tools, you can achieve exactly what Amazon has — a system that recommends truly desirable products for various people, delivers promotions and ads that are relevant to them in the now and generates similar engagements all around.
4. Source Local or Unique Products
You already have a leg-up on the competition in regard to your local and unique products. Use that to your advantage. Double down on the provision and sale of these items and goods, especially when they’re comparable to mass-produced items. People love homegrown products, especially when they come from a local provider and offer incredible value.
You don’t have to adjust your entire inventory. Just know that Amazon sources like this as well with incredibly unique products that almost no other retailer can acquire and sell, and they tend to offer highly competitive prices. You can achieve this goal simply by sourcing products, goods or services that can’t be found elsewhere. They’re exclusive and proprietary, so you hold the power. You can also make them more lucrative and valuable for your customers by setting competitive and wanted pricing schemes.
5. Remember That Customer Service Matters
Many brands and businesses do just the bare minimum when it comes to customer service. They outsource communications, fail to prioritize customer interests or problems and just ignore the entire component of running a business.
Customer service is — and will continue to be — one of the most important aspects of business. Without your customers — even in a B2B environment — you would not be where you are, and you cannot hope to succeed. Not for long, anyway.
Bezos and crew know this, and that’s exactly why they’ve structured Amazon to be one of the most customer-friendly brands. If a product is lost or unsatisfactory, it’s returned and replaced with almost no questions asked. Loyal customers are rewarded with opportunities like Amazon Prime, add-on items for cheaper and similar promotions. Those reaching out to the company through any one of its channels often experience a positive and friendly contact.
Don’t phone this home. Spend and invest as many resources as possible to optimize and improve your customer service. Go above and beyond.
Know you can’t be available all hours of the day to your customers? Employ a smart, reliable chatbot. Know your onboarding or sales process is involved and requires a lot of forms, information, and interactions? Make it simpler by deploying a proprietary communication and data collection platform.
Customers Must Become Your Family
To truly make a difference and become customer-centric at almost every level, you need to accept the fact that your customers are your most important asset, if you will. They’re family, and you should treat them as such.
This new plan means structuring anything and everything you do to make the customer a priority. Establish customer service and sales programs that listen and work with the customer, and factor in their needs and cares. Structure your workforce so that everyone understands how valuable customers are and knows how to treat them right. Finally, make sure you understand the bulk of your audience and what they really want, not just what you think they want.
Take these actions, and you’ll be that much closer — and that much more competitive — to Amazon’s prime methodology
Author: Nathan Sykes
Nathan is the editor of Finding an Outlet. Follow him on Twitter @nathansykestech to keep up with his latest articles.