The importance of research goes without saying when thinking about innovation. Research should be the driving force behind new product ideation and launch. But, in order for companies to be truly innovative and drive digital change, they need to take their research a step further. They need to be truly customer obsessed.
Customer Obsession in Action
Amazon is well known for their stance on customer obsession and credits this mindset for many of their successes, including Amazon Prime. To them, customer obsession means leading with the customer and having business, innovation, and technology follow. In order to be customer obsessed, you must:
- Understand your customer and know their wants, needs, expectations and challenges
- Ask often: “how does this help my customer?” and remove things that don’t add value
- Actively pursue customer feedback and incorporate said feedback
- Take pride in surprising and delighting your customer
Each of these points are essential to driving loyalty and, ultimately, having customers as obsessed with you as you are with them.
Airbnb did a great job honing in on this idea with their 10-star experience exercise. In a podcast, Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, outlined their approach to creating mind-blowing experiences that their customers couldn’t help but brag about. They used design-thinking to build with empathy, incorporated user-feedback, and built a product that focused on surprising and delighting their customers.
This type of thinking is what sets great innovations apart. Customers must drive innovation and purpose must drive product. But, to be clear, customer obsession is not the same as the customer is always right or trying to be everything for everyone. Customer obsession stems from a deep understanding of your customer, their needs, and their desires.
While these concepts seem simple, many find it harder to put them into practice. True customer obsession means that your customer’s needs and desires come ahead of everything else. And, that mentality needs to go further than just marketing and innovation teams.
Marrying Customer Obsession with Company Culture
The customer-obsessed ideology needs to be steeped in a company’s culture and be evident across all teams. Communication across the organization needs to be ongoing and open. Feedback loops need to be in place so customer feedback can get back to quality, R&D and innovation groups. Marketers need to collect data to understand how customers are responding to messaging and be able to share their findings with others. And, analytics need to empower groups throughout the organization with the insights they need. Everyone must center around the idea of adding value for their customers. Customer obsession needs to be more than a mantra, but a way of life within an organization.
By embracing customer obsession and allowing it to drive decision making, organizations will stay focused on developing purpose-driven products, adding value to their customer’s lives and, ultimately, creating products and companies that people love.