The week I read 'The Everything Store' all hell breaks loose on social media. The entrepreneurial journey of Amazon to global powerhouse has left some battle scarred former employees coming out of the woodwork to give scathing commentary on an environment where the customer rules to the exclusion of all else. The New York Times kicked off this media frenzy with an article detailing a gruelling workaholic culture, quickly countered by interviews with both current employees and the CEO himself Jeff Bezos.
Any way you look at it, the phenomenal growth of the company is due in no small measure to putting the customer first.
14 Leadership Principles
Amazon lists the 14 leadership principles which have helped it to regularly feature on the Forbes list of 'Most Innovative Companies'.
- Customer obsession
- Invent and simplify
- Are right. A lot.
- Hire and develop the best
- Insist on the highest standards
- Think big
- Bias for action
- Learn and be curious
- Earn trust
- Dive deep
- Have backbone; disagree and commit
- Deliver results
Customer obsession tops the list: 'Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers'. Random customer anecdotes have been known to change policies within the company. The customer's voice is always heard, and comments are valued as 'customer audits' of Amazon's metrics and processes.
More data is at our fingertips than ever before. For rapidly scaling companies like Amazon, data is the fuel for the engine of growth. Decisions are data-driven and metrics take away the guesswork. An 'unstore' not bound by traditional rules of retail, Amazon has always tested and measured initiatives with the goal of continual improvement. Every incremental improvement is with the customer front of mind. Amazon has also been at the forefront of eCommerce personalisation, using data to make specific customer recommendations. A win-win situation with happy customers and accelerated company growth.
Amazon has been described as both missionary and mercenary. Wherever you stand on the topic of work-life balance, there's no doubt that having a client-centric focus is empowering for your business.