Highlights of Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post

(Photo courtesy CNNMoney)

The news world is abuzz with news & conversations about the Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post. Here are a few points in the announcements that caught my attention:

  • Bezos’ first communication to The Post'’s employees elaborated clearly where the priority lies – the customer.
    • The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners.
    • We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there.
  • How often do we get to hear about an individual’s decency as a deciding factor in world of mergers & acquisitions? In the case of Jeff Bezos, it seems quite often.
    • From Donald Graham’s statement: "Jeff Bezos’ proven technology and business genius, his long-term approach and his personal decency make him a uniquely good new owner for The Post."
  • As seen in earlier cases earlier (like when Zappos was acquired by Amazon), values finds multiple mentions in Bezos’ communication.
    • When a single family owns a company for many decades, and when that family acts for all those decades in good faith, in a principled manner, in good times and in rough times, as stewards of important values – when that family has done such a good job – it is only natural to worry about change.
    • The values of The Post do not need changing.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Bezos will try & innovate The Post out of its financial misery. What kind of innovations will we get to see in the world of news publishing? After the medium, is it now the turn of the content to play a role in Bezos’ & Amazon’s vision?

Customers *Must* Be Part of the Co-Creation Process

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 226 executives at global enterprises to find out how smart companies innovate as part of a Oracle sponsored study about cultivating business-led innovation.


One of the key findings of the study has been that “companies furthest along the innovation path utilize customer data and customer participation in their product and service improvements. Fifty-four percent of respondents in this group actively collect customer feedback and analyze customer data for clues to innovate effectively, but in different ways.”

As Oracle SVP Bob Evans blogs: “Customers *Must* Be Part of the Co-Creation Process. As companies of all sizes and across all industries realize that the co-creation of value and of experiences with customers can be a profound way to boost customer loyalty, they also must recognize that relevant innovation in a customer-free vacuum is impossible. Mid-size and smaller companies ($500 million or less) connect directly with customers in interviews about product design and testing, while companies with revenue above $1 billion or more likely to use social technology and sentiment analysis to uncover customer-focused innovations.”

You can find the details of this study & the report at the Oracle feature page or The Economist Intelligence Unit site.

Who is your customer?

Seth Godin rocks in packing wisdom in nugget sized blog posts. This one on customers stands out.

If you can only build one statue, who is it going to be a statue of?

25 Ways to Show Loyalty to Your Customers

ThanksYou_Flickr-woodleywonderworks(Photo courtesy flickr | woodleywonderworks)

A business that values its focus on its customers, regularly find ways to show their loyalty to their customers. It is a good practice for your & your customer facing teams to regularly find novel & memorable ways of doing this.

Chip Bell & John Patterson have listed 25 ways of doing this in their Wired & Dangerous blog:

  • Invite a customer to an important staff meeting to talk about their needs and goals
  • Arrange for a special learning experience for customers
  • Name a policy, building, or conference room for a key customer
  • Start a fund or scholarship in the name of a key customer
  • Poll your customer for their input on important changes you plan to make

Read the entire list here.

Related Posts:
~ Suddenlink | Customer Experience Lessons
~ Social Media Lessons From FedEx
~ Customer Loyalty
~ What is a customer centric organization?

Suddenlink | Customer Experience Lessons

(Photo courtesy flickr | Dex Encarta)

In his post FastCompany | 7 Timeless Ways To Improve Customer Satisfaction, author Drew Neisser filters out the following success factors for customer (satisfaction or experience – call it what you may) initiatives based on Suddenlink’s success. In a struggling economy & in an industry with a questionable reputation for bad customer experiences, Suddenlink has shown improvements in multiple industry measures – $ terms & otherwise. 

  1. Put someone in charge – having someone responsible for customer interest makes customer initiatives more focused
  2. Measure. Measure. Measure. – rely on multiple measures of how your business has performed in the customer’s perspective
  3. Fix the real issues – measuring is a starting point; addressing issues that are identified as part of the measurement is the REAL deal
  4. Link metrics to evaluation – to make customers a priority, link metrics to performance evaluation & even compensation
  5. Detractors are an opportunity – unhappy customers or detractors should be viewed as an opportunity for positive conversion
  6. Use social media to understand & serve customers (not sell more) – social media is a great listening tool to understand needs & respond to issues
  7. Continuous improvement – customer initiatives should never have an end, they are always work in progress to achieve even better customer outcomes

Related Posts:
~ Amazon – World’s Most Customer Centric Company
~ Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness
Volvo’s Quest For Customer Centricity
~ Customer Service Champs 2010

Customer Experience Resolutions

“Many companies have customer experience efforts underway and it’s time for them to embed customer experience management into the rhythm of their business — making it a fundamental part of how their organizations operate. Here are my 2011 resolutions for companies that have the courage and resolve to get to that next level.”
- Bruce Temkin

Read the full post here.

Reinforce The Positives

(Photo courtesy Express Photorail)

India is gaining in reputation for being the services & hospitality capital of the world. But, instances of bad experiences introduces doubt if the country & its professionals have what it takes to deliver on this promise. I came across a Vir Sanghvi article today that deals with the issue of service attitude (or the lack of it) amongst professionals in this industry. Causes vary between employee's lack of long term commitment to a job, multitude of employment options, corporations taking customers for granted, etc. - all matters beyond any one individual's control. Overwhelming for anyone wanting to better the situation!

Can such systemic issues have simple individual remedies?

Read the full article here.  

Related Posts:
     ~ Changing Scales in India
     ~ Enterprise IT – Just A Utility?
     ~ When Customer Rule!

Customer Needs As Innovation Source

Starting with a specific customer need leads to an innovative new product for senior citizens in India.

Also another example for a developing nation innovation finding a market in the developed world.


Amazon – World’s Most Customer Centric Company


Want to know why the Kindle is more differentiated?

What does Jeff Bezos think about his competition?

What does the “world’s most customer centric company” mean to Amazon?

Do you think Walmart has a chance against Amazon?

Watch Jeff Bezos discuss all the above & more with Charlie Rose in this interview.

Tony Hsieh – Delivering Happiness

With Tony Hsieh’s new book Delivering Happiness hitting the stores today, there is a buzz around about Zappos, Tony & his book. One of the first write-ups I have read about the book is a Fast Company blog post.

The Happiness Culture: Zappos Isn't a Company -- It's a Mission

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Some quotes I like from the write-up are as follows:

But today Zappos has an employee culture that seems very much of one mind, focused on customer service and not in some sort of cookie-cutter corporate way. Zappos really cares that you're happy, and it's baked into their beliefs, their customer interaction, and even the way they hire.

“It's not me saying to our employees, this is where our culture is. It's more about giving employees permission and encouraging them to just be themselves.”

As you read Delivering Happiness, it's clear that Hsieh is talking about customer happiness, but also employee happiness, and even his happiness. He says the goals of Happiness aren't mutually exclusive.

“There's three types of happiness and really happiness is about being able to combine pleasure, passion, and purpose in one's personal life. I think it's helpful and useful to actually think about all three in terms of how you can make customers happier, employees happier, and ultimately, investors happier.”