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Late last night I learned that Jeff Bezos had acquired the Washington Post, for what appears to be a very reasonable sum of money. I certainly didn’t see it coming, but then again I didn’t expect the Kindle to be a success. Never bet against Bezos.

I met the man himself in 2001: he was a ball of energy, despite just stepping off an overnight flight to London, and his vision for the future of his company, and the industry, was very impressive. 

A year early, Matt Kelly interviewed him – the first European interview with Bezos – and having just read it, I find it totally striking that Bezos was so customer-focused, back in the day. It’s easy to think that the phrase ‘customer experience’ is relatively new. It’s not.

Here’s one excerpt from Matt’s interview:

I love improving the customer experience. I teach our staff to be really anally retentive in that regard - it's just so important.

That kind of focus on the customer is a big part of what makes Amazon – and other customer-centric companies - so successful. 

I thought I’d compile a few other nuggets of wisdom from Bezos relating to the customer experience.

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.

If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.

If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.

The best customer service is if the customer doesn't need to call you, doesn't need to talk to you. It just works.

If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.

If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience.

There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you are good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backwards, even if it requires learning new skills.

If we can arrange things in such a way that our interests are aligned with our customers, then in the long term that will work out really well for customers and it will work out really well for Amazon.

Obsess over customers.

If you’re on a mission to improve the customer experience, or to persuade your boss that this is the very best way forward, then you should come to Econsultancy’s JUMP event on 9 October in London. Dozens of brands will be sharing insights into the multichannel customer experience, and it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year JUMP forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza. Hope to see you there!

Chris Lake

Published 6 August, 2013 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (2)


Malika S. Griffin

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the foundation of any online small business marketing plan, but it isn’t always easy to understand. Learn more.

about 3 years ago


Shep Hyken

Jeff Bezos is definitely one of the rock stars when it comes to customer service. I love this compilation of Bezos quotes. They make great conversation starters for a team meeting. If nothing else, they give insight into just how customer-focused Jeff Bezos really is.

about 3 years ago

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