Amazon is known as one of the most customer-centric companies in the world. Jeff Bezos & Co make their customers and their (future) needs the starting point and top priority for innovation. There is a lot that you can learn from Amazon.

When I first bought a book through Amazon some 15 years ago, I was a little surprised by the combination of nice price, fast delivery and excellent customer service. In the past years we all have been used to this great Amazon experience. It is something we seem to take for granted, though in reality this kind of customer-centricity is very rare.

Why Amazon Is So Successful

At the very heart of Amazon’s success is the total obsession with customer-centricity. Their motto is to start with the consumer and then work backward, not the other way around. This is supported by an amazing data capability that delivers Amazon an unparalleled insight into customer behavior, needs, and preferences. This results in a strong focus on delivering a superior customer experience.

“The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once said. “Our goal is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company.” How do Bezos and his employees get it done?

1. Get out of the building

Amazon really wants to know what makes the customer tick. This is done through big data, but also simply by talking to the target group.

This can take the form of taking to the streets of India in order to understand the jobs of Indian merchants, as well as the pains and gains they experience when buying and selling goods online.

2. Amazon is not expensive

Although third parties – such as publishing houses – are less happy about this, Amazon does everything it can to offer the customer the best deals possible.

As we can see, most books, CDs and DVDs are offered for lower prices on the Amazon website than by the competition.

3. The entire customer journey is frictionless

Amazon has a very information-rich website; the web giant even promotes honest reviews! Furthermore, there is an easy 1-Click Ordering option.

As a cherry on top, many times a product will be in your house earlier than was promised. Many smaller web sellers do the exact opposite: making promises they cannot keep.

In rare instances something will still go wrong. No problem! Just by indicating that you have not received a product, you will get a refund without further questions. At Amazon the customer is always right.

4. Amazon Knows How to Say They’re Sorry

In 2009 Jeff Bezos deleted books by George Orwell (!) from people’s Kindles without informing them first. The reason was that the publisher of the e-books didn’t have permission to produce electronic copies of the titles.

After a public outcry, Bezos apologized for the manner in which the problem had been handled. He wrote on the corporate Amazon blog:

“This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our ‘solution’ to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received.”

Such a frank admission is rare and inspiring at the same time.

Amazon In The Future

Meanwhile, Amazon is also going offline as the Amazon Go concept shows. Customers no longer have to wait in line to pay, a big dissatisfaction as we all know, but can just walk out without even having to scan their groceries. It is only a matter of time before Amazon will roll out this concept in the Whole Foods retail chain it bought in 2017 and shake up offline retailing with their customer-centric mindset.

If Bezos & Co will continue to optimize each step in the customer-journey, I have no doubt that Amazon will keep surprising us the coming years.