Word from the C-suite: Customers are 'always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied,' Amazon CEO says

With the number of executives that have come under fire recently for public comments related to their business ventures — the CEOs of Uber, United Airlines and Wells Fargo, to name a few — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offers his thoughts on how companies may be able to avoid some of the negative backlash and maintain the public's support.

In a 2016 letter distributed to Amazon shareholders, Mr. Bezos describes the two states of being a company experiences during the course of its lifetime: Day 1, where the company continues to innovate and expand, gaining popularity with the masses for its products and services, and Day 2, where a company exists in "stasis … followed by irrelevance[;] followed by excruciating, painful decline[;] followed by death." For Mr. Bezos companies must always strive to exist in a "Day 1" state. The easiest way to do so is to become completely obsessed with your customer.

"There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business-model focused … But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality. Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here's the big one: Customers are always, beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don't yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it … Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen."

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If you would like to contribute a quote for this series, please email Alyssa Rege at arege@beckershealthcare.com to be featured in "Word from the C-suite."

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