I have never understood when people raise their hand at my keynotes and say, “All right,
Gary, you just talked about 15 hours a day on Twitter and this and that. When do I do my
real job?” And my answer always is, “When was your real job not actually giving a crap
about your customer?”
All right, well the first thing I know is that you need to obsess over customers. I can
tell you that we have been doing this from the very beginning, and it’s the only reason
that Amazon.com exists today in any form. We’ve always put customers first. When
given the choice of obsessing over competitors or obsessing over customers, we always
obsess over customers.
In terms of our focus on customer service though, one of the reasons why we do
focus so much is because on any given day about 75 percent of our orders are from repeat
customers. And our whole philosophy is take most of the money that we would have
spent on marketing, on paid marketing, and instead put that into the customer experience
and then let the repeat customers and word of mouth be our true form of marketing.
You’ve gotta start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.
You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re gonna try to sell it,
and I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room.
I think too many people are trying to get new customers, and I think that the energy’s
coming away from the current customers. And I don’t think they realize the word of
mouth of their current customers can amplify more new customers than their hustle to go
out and find new deer.
We really like to start with customers and work backwards, and again that is the key
thing that I know, and it covers a lot of other mistakes. If you’re truly obsessed over
customers, it’ll cover a lot of errors.
Well it starts out with our policies. The first thing is our 1-800 number. You know
most websites it’s pretty hard to find contact information; usually it’s buried five links
deep in. Even then it’s not a phone number; it’s a e-mail address. And we take the
exact opposite approach because we actually want to talk to our customers.
Any company that wants to focus on customers and put customers first, any company that
wants to invent on behalf of customers has to be willing to think long term.
What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?
Not starting with let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome
technology we have and then how are we gonna market that.
The telephone is actually one of the best branding devices out there. You have your
customers undivided attention for five to ten minutes, and if you get the interaction right,
like that’s something they’ll remember for a very long time and also tell their friends and
I knew that my dad wasn’t customer-service driven, and I saw an opportunity to create a
legendary story. I mean stories, stories are the game.
No, let’s give you an example. When we started Virgin Atlantic 30 years ago, we had
one 747 competing with airlines that had an average of 300 planes each. Every single
one of those you know airlines have gone bankrupt because they didn’t have customer
Honor, respect, care for, protect, and reward your employees regardless of title or
position, and in turn they will treat each other and their external customers in a warm, in
a caring, and in a hospitable way. This causes external customers to return, thus bringing
joy to shareholders.
Everything in the end comes down to customer service and the people who
are serving you and whether they are proud of the company and you know the only
way that you’re gonna actually have people working in a company, uh, that are proud of
it is if you give them the tools, give them every little detail.
Show that you value your employees as individuals, not just as workers.
Effort is underrated, ’cause it just doesn’t have to be about dollars and sense, that I know
the reason I’ve been successful is I never make decisions like a CFO and I never make
decisions for the next 24 minutes, and everybody else does.