If you haven’t stumbled across Jeff Bezo’s recent letter to shareholders, it’s worth a read.
Just a few excerpts:
“One advantage—perhaps a somewhat subtle one—of a customer-driven focus is that it aids a certain type of proactivity. When we’re at our best, we don’t wait for external pressures. We are internally driven to improve our services, adding benefits and features, before we have to.”
my translation: we don’t benchmark against competitors, we let good experiences and customer value drive what we do
“We build automated systems that look for occasions when we’ve provided a customer experience that isn’t up to our standards, and those systems then proactively refund customers.”
my translation: we bake good experiences into our service, even to correct bad ones
“We also have authors as customers. Amazon Publishing has just announced it will start paying authors their royalties monthly, sixty days in arrears. The industry standard is twice a year.”
my translation: good customers are good customers. Let’s not screw over some in favor of others.
“As I write this, our recent stock performance has been positive, but we constantly remind ourselves of an important point—as I frequently quote famed investor Benjamin Graham in our employee all-hands meetings—’In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.’ We don’t celebrate a 10% increase in the stock price like we celebrate excellent customer experience. We aren’t 10% smarter when that happens and conversely aren’t 10% dumber when the stock goes the other way. We want to be weighed, and we’re always working to build a heavier company.”
my translation: our customers are our customers, our shareholders aren’t. You can have a company without shareholders, but you can’t have one without customers.
I’ll totally admit that Amazon has its problems. Authors have been kept in the dark about sales for years. They can occasionally crush smaller businesses. I’m sure they keep data on us that is very creepy.
Still, it seems a bold letter to write to shareholders.