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What is Customer Obsession?

Written by, Ljubica Gjorgievska

Updated July, 9, 2023

Have you ever wondered what is the secret to Amazon’s success? 

If you ask Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, the key to a successful business is customer obsession.

But what is customer obsession and why is it so important? 

Let’s find out.

What Is Customer Obsession?

Customer obsessed companies are companies that are more concerned with retaining existing customers than acquiring new ones

These companies regularly collect feedback from their customers and prioritise their needs in every business goal. They operate on the belief that if a business’s existing customers are satisfied, then that business will inevitably attract more customers. 

Some examples of customer obsession are:

  • Morton’s The Steakhouse once brought a stake to a man at the airport after he asked for one in a tweet. 
  • Nordstorm accepted a set of returned tires from a customer even though the company doesn’t sell tires.
  • Sainsbury changed the name of one of its products to ‘giraffe bread’ after a 3-year-old suggested it. 

What are the Characteristics of Customer Obsessed Companies?

The key characteristics of a customer obsessed culture are:

  • Retention over acquisition

Many businesses spend thousands of dollars on marketing to bring new customers and expand their network. To be precise, UK business spent over 60% of their budgets on digital advertising. Client-obsessed companies prioritise adding value to the customer experience instead, which is around 5-25 times cheaper and can prove to be more effective.

  • Quality over quantity

Rather than chasing numbers, customer obsessed companies focus on their long-term goals. They put an emphasis on the quality of service and would rather acquire one loyal customer than 5 customers who are not as likely to come back.

  • Efficient and proactive customer service

A company’s customer service is the link between the company and its clients. 

In companies that are customer obsessed, the customer service teams are proactive– meaning they solve problems that customers might encounter before customers notice or bring them to their attention.

Did you know? For the previous decade, Amazon has been recognized as the best firm for customer service in the UK!

For example, businesses can use email automation to send follow-up emails after a purchase or after a client has browsed through their shop, and introduce self-service tools like knowledge bases and community forums to help customers resolve some of the most common issues they encounter. 

  • Hyperfocus on customer feedback

The hyperfocus on customer feed is what truly captures the meaning of customer obsessed.

Customer obsessed businesses listen to engage with their customers regularly and listen to their feedback. They regularly survey their customers about their experience before making any changes or introducing new products. 

What Are the Qualities of Customer Obsession?

  • Simplicity – Customers prefer a simple experience and are more likely to recommend a brand if it has a clear proposition that saves them time.
  • Empathy – Businesses that can show they understand customers’ problems and needs are more likely to retain them.
  • Respect your employees – Employees are more likely to be loyal to the company and work to achieve business goals.
  • Customer focus – The client obsession revolves around listening to customers’ feedback and building the businesses around customers’ needs. 
  • Communication – Engaging with customers regularly makes it easier for businesses to figure out how to improve their products.

How to Create a Customer Obsessed Culture?

If you believe that a customer obsession model is in your business’s best interest, then here’s a short guide on how you can turn your company into a customer obsessed business.

  • Research: What the customer needs

The No.1 rule for creating a customer obsessed culture at work is to understand your existing customers’ needs, wishes, and problems.

Analysing customer data for common problems and trends and sharing the findings with the rest of the organisation can help you identify issues and understand what area needs improvement. 

  • Use your research to deliver

Once you figure out what your customers need, you can use that knowledge to create business plans that would address their interests. You can use this data to improve marketing, sales, and customer service

For example, less than half of customers in the UK are satisfied with the mobile experience supplied by small businesses. So, if your customers prefer one platform over another, you can refocus your engagement efforts there or try to introduce products and services that they’d want to see. 

  • Commit to being customer obsessed

Being customer centric and customer obsessed are two different notions. 

Customer obsessed businesses respond quickly and promptly to their customers’ requests and questions and always prioritise them over any other issue.  

  • Hire the right person/right team

Employees can make or break a company’s success. In a customer obsessed company, employees should actively try to improve customer experience, regardless of their position. 

Hiring people that know how to communicate with your customers and how to address their needs is essential to creating a customer obsessed business.

  • Show strong leadership

Customer obsession requires a strong leadership principle. 

Customer obsession principles are built at the highest level of the organisation.

Leaders need to take part in shareholder meetings, pipeline reviews, and business development processes to set an example and make sure that the company is focusing on customer-focused strategies. 

  • Encourage innovation

Innovation is a crucial part of every customer obsessed business. These companies always question the status quo and look for ways to better serve their customers and improve their lives. 

What keeps them successful is their refusal to rely on a past legacy. 

  • Reward your employees

Keeping employees’ customer obsessed culture requires reinforcement.

One example of reinforcing customer obsession is setting up weekly or monthly meetings where employees receive reward badges for successfully retaining customers. 

What Are the Most Customer Obsessed Companies?

In the last several years, more companies have jumped on the bandwagon of customer obsession.

 In 2022, some of the best customer obsessed companies are: 

  • Amazon

According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s success is the result of 4 key principles, the first one of which is customer obsession.

The Amazon founder is famous for leaving an empty chair at conferences to represent the customer. Bezos reportedly used to tell employees that the empty chair represents ‘the most important person in the room’.

  • Disney

Disney is another example of a customer centric business and owes its success to the ability to take experiences meant for millions and personalise them for an individual. 

For example, visitors at Disney World are asked whether they’re visiting the venue for the first time or if they’re celebrating a birthday, retirement, or marriage. This helps the staff offer service that is personalised and delivered on the spot. 

  • PayPal

PayPal is rigorous in informing users of forthcoming updates and any changes detected in their accounts. The company also makes an extra effort to explain what personal data is collected, how it’s processed, and whether and with whom it is shared

As a result, a 2018 Ipsos Global Research survey found that customers are ‘more ready to buy’ from a vendor if they can pay with PayPal.

  • Microsoft

Microsoft excels at innovation and making it easier for customers to use its services. 

What’s more, the company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, reportedly refuses to discuss gains, profits, or any other numbers at meetings until he sees the user statistics

  • Franklin Synergy Bank

Franklin Synergy Bank managed to build a customer obsessed culture by making sure that its employees are knowledgeable and willing to help and educate customers about any problem they might come across while using their services. 

Bottom Line

Customer obsessed companies are organisations that prioritise the customer in every part of the business plan. Their main focus is meeting customers’ needs and building customer loyalty rather than acquiring new ones. 

Big corporations such as Amazon, Disney, and PayPal are the perfect example of how customer obsession works and why every business should consider switching to it.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What is the difference between customer focus and customer obsession?

Customer focused companies deliver on the user’s needs, but customer obsessed companies make every decision with the customers’ needs in mind.

Why is customer obsession important?

Customer obsession helps businesses retain loyal customers and increases the brand’s value.

How do you show customer obsession examples?

Examples of customer obsession are listening and responding to customers’ needs, exceeding customers’ expectations, and making business decisions based on how they will improve the customer experience.

What is customer obsession?

Customer obsession is a business approach that focuses on retaining customers, where companies are primarily committed to providing a top-notch customer experience. 

As a writer for Don’t Disappoint Me, my job is to collect relevant key information and interpret it into a wide range of content. I also have an MSc in Marketing, so I am always trying to expand my knowledge and discover new and exciting areas of digital marketing, SEO and web traffic building. I am a nature enthusiast, so when I’m not researching and analyzing, I love to go hiking with my dogs, camping, or snowboarding. I am a bookaholic as well and have an ongoing obsession with crime TV shows and movies.