Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is clear that underlying the success of Amazon is their obsessive focus on the customer. Amazon customers experience this passion throughout the interaction with Amazon, from search to product delivery to returns. Recently, I was charged for something that I had previously returned. Their customer service representative never asked me to prove it, she just fixed it – in record time. She had the authority to do the right thing – I was amazed at how pleasant and easy the interaction was.
Amazon provides their employees with the mandate and incentive to focus on the customer above all else. What’s more – they are focused on the outcome that the customer wishes to achieve. Take a moment and reflect upon your business, are you measuring success against customer outcomes, or against your contractual agreements?
Most B2B businesses struggle with this point. In our experience at Farland Group, B2B teams are focused on and measured by their ability to deliver on the contract or service line agreements (SLAs). Teams are hired and lined up to deliver upon SLAs; the contract becomes their bible. A narrow focus on SLAs often leads to poor alignment with the client’s business goals and in the worst cases, creates frustration as teams are unable to work outside of the contract to achieve business outcomes and deliver broader customer success.
While customer obsession is critical, it is important that you are aligning your teams with the outcomes and business goals of the client. By focusing on business outcomes, you and your teams will gain clients that are with you for the long term, and move away from short term and limited transactions. Begin by bringing together your team and your client to ensure that everyone understands the larger set of business goals. Provide your teams the authority to do the right thing in all instances – regardless of contract – and empower your teams to run your client’s business like it is their own. How are you leading your teams to focus on customer outcomes and drive to longer term success?