B2B International
B2B International

January 4, 2008

The Way Forward - How companies can build long-term growth by focussing on the customer

Finishing off our post from yesterday about the importance of the customer, using Amazon.com as an example, today we explore in more detail how the world’s largest online retailer has achieved long-term growth and at why it’s customers, not rivals that organisations should be most concerned with:

Customer Focused Strategies rather than Competitor focused Strategies

A lot of energy as a company comes from Amazon trying to build customer-focused strategies.

Amazon has a different attitude to many sellers: “We don’t make money when we sell things; we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.” To make this part of the company culture and to inject it into the Amazon DNA:

  • Every new employee no matter how senior or junior has to go to spend time in the company’€™s fulfillment centers within the first year of employment.
  • Every two years every employee does two days of customer service.
  • Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.

Indeed, at B2B International we’ve also adopted much the same philosophy to ensure that our team are truly being able to understand the whys and wherefores of conducting effective market research – For instance roughly half of our executive team started out at the "sharp end" of research in our telephone unit. This kind of organic growth and development within the company helps us to better appreciate what truly matters for our clients.

If you are a leader and your focus is on customers you keep improving.

Amazon.com wants to set a new standard globally for what €œcustomer centric€? means. Be afraid of your customers and be respectful of your customers, because those are the folks who have the money. Our competitors are never going to send us money.

Amazon also has a continuous effort to reduce the costs of innovation and experiments.You cannot always wait until something is perfect before launching it into the market, in some cases you do have to leap into something expensive and then you have to work out a way to make it work making twists and turns along the way.

The kind of innovation is exemplified in the diagram below, which charts Amazon’s development in the last 10 years or so. The fruit of this innovation is best seen in terms of Amazon’s phenomenal growth in sales revenue, also included:

A timeline of Amazon's development

A graph showing Amazon's phenomenal growth