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Success in this rapidly evolving business landscape means knowing the difference between being ‘customer focused’ and ‘customer-centric’. Find out the secrets behind Amazon’s incredible success story.

Success in this rapidly evolving business landscape means knowing the difference between being ‘customer focused’ and ‘customer-centric’. Find out the secrets behind Amazon’s success story.

Nearly every business on the planet would claim that being ‘customer focused’ is what differentiates their company from the competition. But in truth, by its very nature as a commercial company, every business is customer focused. Keeping customers happy and supplying them with the goods and services they demand is a basic principle of good business. But to take customer engagement to the next level, companies should be looking to take the ‘Ready Business’ approach.

A Ready Business is one that is scalable, connected and most importantly, puts its customers’ needs first. It is able to do this by moving from a ‘customer focused’ to a ‘customer-centric’ approach. To be customer-centric means not just merely to responding to customers, but understanding their needs and building a business strategy that brings long-term mutual benefits.

The customer-centric approach

One company which encapsulates the customer-centric approach is Amazon. The e-retailing giant aims to be ‘the Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators’. To achieve this aim Amazon has had to gain a deep understanding of its customers, enabling it to deliver what consumers expect today, and also anticipate what they may need tomorrow.

Understanding your customers might seem like a simple process but when, like Amazon, you operate 24/7 in five continents your customer base is incredibly diverse. However, one priority Amazon identified across all of its markets was a customer desire for the ‘always-on experience’. This hunger to get access to their content, anytime, anywhere drove the strategy behind the creation of the Kindle eReader.

Amazon’s ambition to allow book lovers to buy, download and read digitised content from a device even when they were on the go, led to them partnering with another customer-centric company; Vodafone. By embedding Vodafone connectivity into the Kindle device customers could buy and download books on the move, in a smooth and elegant manner - with no contracts and no extra payments.

Today, Kindle Paperwhite 3G users have the ability to download a book in more than 150 countries and the relationship between the two companies has extended as Amazon’s product portfolio has grown. Vodafone’s 4G-enabled SIM is now powering all Kindle Fire HDX tablets in the UK and Germany.

Shared philosophy

Vodafone’s own customer-centric approach meant it understood Amazon’s relentless focus on the customer experience, on streamlining process and costs. This insight led Vodafone to provide the Simple Out-of-Box Experience (SOBE) SIM for the Kindle Fire HDX. The flexibility of the SOBE SIM – once activated, the Vodafone SIM becomes ‘local’, picking up the local network – meant Amazon was able to manage the launch from a single SIM across multiple markets and thereafter the supply chain with minimal effort. This was a huge benefit in terms of both cost and management.

What the Amazon and Vodafone partnership has proven is that by focussing on the requirements of the customer and building your own product and business strategy around anticipating those needs, your business can be ready for anything.