Internet, Shminternet: Amazon’s Obsession with Customer Experience

5 min read - Insights

Let’s Go Back 20 Years…

It’s 1999 (two years since Amazon went public) and Jeff Bezos is on CNBC TV to defend Amazon against several key accusations. The first being that Amazon stock is long-term volatile. Second, that Amazon is just another short-term “internet play…”

His defence? Customer Experience (CX). In fact, he says the word customer fifteen times in the clip. I counted.

I’ll admit, it’s hard to watch the interview now without rose-tinted eyes. Particularly the reporter doubting the viability of an e-commerce company versus the traditional retail store…

But there’s one thing that stands out about the interview. It’s the key difference of opinion between Bezos and the interviewer when it comes to Amazon’s status as an internet company. The surprise? Jeff Bezos (CEO of now the largest internet company by revenue in the world) actually doesn’t care about the internet…

“It doesn’t matter to me whether we’re an internet play, what matters to me is do we provide the best customer service? Internet, shminternet.”

Internet, Shminternet

Alright, it’s slightly disingenuous to say Bezos doesn’t care about the internet. Instead, he just cares about customer experience more. To him, the internet is just the best way to deliver the highest level of customer experience possible. This sounds really simple in theory but it’s where so many businesses miss the mark.

I work at an app development agency full of people who are passionate about technology. And I understand the excitement around how mobile apps have completely changed the way customers and businesses interact over the last decade. But…

I also really believe in what Jeff Bezos said twenty years ago. If you want your business to thrive, then you have to focus obsessively on your customers. That means things like ease of use, tailored experiences, more information during the purchase decision and a direct channel between your customers and you.

“If there’s one thing Amazon.com is about, it’s obsessive attention to the customer experience end-to-end.”

Investing in Customer Innovation

This is the key factor that should be behind any investment in consumer tech. For Amazon, the internet was a means to an end. The end being the highest level of customer experience and convenience possible. So high, in fact, that people wouldn’t mind paying more to buy something online (with next day delivery) that they probably could’ve got cheaper from a nearby store. Why? Because it’s a better experience.

But, on the other hand, if you’re innovating for the sake of innovating, then you can’t expect revenue off the back of it. It just doesn’t make sense. You shouldn’t be investing in a bespoke app because you want an app.

Instead, you should be exploring mobile because this year, 44.7% of e-commerce sales will be made on mobile. By 2021, it’ll be 54%. You should be looking at your customer experience on mobile because it’s the first place buyers go to research products. Or because it provides faster purchases, a direct connection to consumers and a customer experience that keeps users coming back to your store.

There has to be a goal and there have to be metrics. Without these in place, your project won’t bring value to your customers or your business. So, how can you set goals for consumer innovation and app development?

Goal-Driven Development

It’s important that any digital consumer project undergoes some kind of discovery phase. Because before building a product or solution, you’ve got to make sure that it improves your customer experience and increases your revenue. Your development has to be goal-driven if you want it to provide real business value.

A discovery phase does exactly this. It’s a customer-focused research piece during which you can work out what your customers want. More importantly, though, it shows you the difference between what your customers needs and your business goals.

But what if you could do this research, build a prototype product and then test it all-in-one?

Enter: The Design Sprint

The design sprint, developed at Google Ventures, is a five day process through which you can design, prototype and test a consumer product with your customers. At Sonin, we’ve run several similar sprints to help our clients find innovative solutions to their key customer challenges.

This way, we can choose one of your customers’ key problems, explore the solutions available and then test a prototype solution with them. All in under a week. No roadblocks and no delayed decisions. A design sprint lets you focus (obsessively) on customer experience.

Considering a design sprint to solve a customer challenge or test a proof-of-concept? Talk to one of our mobile app experts today.