Take Cues from Amazon’s Customer Obsession

Security Sales & Integration

The Big Idea with Ron Davis
September, 2016

Take Cues From Amazon’s Customer Obsessions

Bob BittonIf you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month we feature Scott Davis, Chief Growh Officer, Prophet
Sampson’s BIG IDEA:

“Be honest about what experience you are delivering today — from a customer perspective — and where there are opportunities for improvement.”

is the chief growth officer at Prophet, a worldwide and well-recognized consulting firm. Scott has been a senior partner since 2000, helping clients as diverse as GE, Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, State Farm and United Airlines win in the marketplace. He is an author, speaker, and highly sought after for innovation/brand consulting. He is also my son.
While reading an article he wrote for Forbes, I realized that the information it contained is as applicable to the security industry as it is to other industries and businesses worldwide. Let me quote from the article, “How Amazon’s Brand and Customer Experience Became Synonymous:”
In talking with one of my colleagues last week, it was quite clear that he has a personal relationship with Alexa, the voice service that powers Amazon’s Echo. He talks to Alexa about the weather, flight delays, movie reviews, restaurant reservations, his son’s school projects and even what temperature he wants the room to be. My colleague readily admits the more he interacts with Alexa the more she compels him to buy on Amazon. … Through Alexa, Amazon is creating an on-demand, personalized, signature experience that we will be talking about for years.
With Prime, Echo and its ever-broadcasting web services business, Amazon is slowly but surely becoming the world leader in delivering on its brand promise: being the “Earth’s biggest selection and being the Earth’s most customer-centric company.” In his annual letter to shareholders, [founder Jeff] Bezos humbly stated why Amazon continues to be so successful: “Our focus is on customer obsession rather than competitor obsession, eagerness to invent and pioneer, willingness to fail, the patience to think long term, and the taking of professional pride and operational excellence.” Customer obsession is one of the hallmarks of brands that stand apart from the rest — think Apple, Southwest and Nordstrom. But Amazon is the one that other brands are now obsessing over. Be honest about what experience you are delivering today — from a customer perspective — and where there are opportunities for improvement. Technology can enable game-changing innovation, but not every company has to create its own version of Echo.
In our industry, it seems some firms are so concerned with everything that other companies are doing, including building a nice niche for themselves, that they forget they have strengths of their own. If your attrition rate is 10% or less, you have very sticky customers, and that means they are aware of, open to and ready for new ideas and thoughts from your company. That’s why there is so much interest on the part of cable companies, telcos, etc., to acquire alarm company customers — so some of the stickiness of alarm customers will rub off on other services being offered.

What can you do in your market that could replicate what Amazon does worldwide? If you can figure out the potential answers to that, perhaps you can develop some ways to make your customers’ experiences not just unique, but rather, game changing. Here are a few idea stimulators:
  1. No hold time on the telephone.
  2. Empowering employees to make decisions regardless of what the customer’s problems are.
  3. Recognizing that almost everything that you accomplish in business is worthy of some kind of press release to a radio station, TV station, newspaper or local magazine.
  4. Take charge of or create a charitable effort that your company can take ownership of, like a donation for every alarm signal you receive that prevents what could be a tragic outcome. At Security Associates we set up a program to donate bulletproof vests to local police when one of our actions prevented a crime.
  5. Ask your local police department chief or fire department chief what your company can do to support their activities. At least it opens the door to good dialog. Take a photo to send with a press release about your company and local law or fire authorities discussing ways to improve community interactions.
I’ll bet you could add a dozen more ideas. Perhaps make a contest to see who in your company generates the best idea to start augmenting your customer relationships. It’s a worthy pursuit, and your company will benefit immediately.

Ron DavisRon Davis is Security Sales & Integration‘s “What’s the Big Idea?” columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.