Sunday, January 6, 2008

Obsession with customers

Joe Nocera, of NY Times fame, yesterday wrote a piece about Amazon's obsession with customers and his personal experience with their service.

He questions Wall Street's obsession with short-term goals:
"Maybe, just maybe, taking care of customers is something worth doing when you are trying to create a lasting company. Maybe, in fact, it's the best way to build a real business - even if it comes at the expense of short-term results."
And he concludes:
"There is simply no question that Mr. Bezos’s obsession with his customers — and the long term — has paid off, even if he had to take some hits to the stock price along the way. Surely, it was worth it. As for me, the $500 favor the company did for me this Christmas will surely rebound in additional business down the line. Why would I ever shop anywhere else online? Then again, there may be another reason good customer service makes sense. “Jeff used to say that if you did something good for one customer, they would tell 100 customers,” Mr. Kotha said.

I guess that’s what I just did."
Customer experiences become more and more important: Thoughtfulness is on the top of my list. Two examples:

My wife and I used to have a mortgage with Citibank and switched a few months ago to ING Direct. What a dramatic change:
The ING Direct web experience might be the best I've ever encountered. It takes less than 30 seconds to pay the mortgage, everything is superbly organized, no unnecessary paperwork. A pure, minimalistic experience. Exactly what I'm looking for when dealing with a mortgage company. The brand promise. Overdelivered.

Second Example: You know the situation: It's a dark bar, you get the check, it's hard to read and even harder to write down the tip and total, sign it. This bar and, dare I say it: Camel, improved my overall experience by offering the first back-lit bar check.

Bruce Temkin spoke on his blog about ten customer experience resolutions for 2008. All brands should have those resolutions posted in each room and our sites. And by all brands, I mean all brands. When a bar can delight you with something besides cheap and stiff drinks, you know that every brand can make my life better.

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