Monday, September 08, 2014

The Amazonisation of Everything

The hard-to-say-but-easy-to-understand term 'Amazonisation' is proving very useful to me in conversations with business leaders.

But how do you understand it - and how can it be delivered?

Don't expect all the answers in the body of this blogpost by the way. That's the point of blogging (something I've been doing way too little of recently). So, I'm reminding myself: It's a conversation starter - an opportunity to think out-loud (and have others join in - that's your role).

Transformer. Wouldn't be complete without Perfect Day...
What makes Amazon special?
Amazon's ambition is to become the most customer-centric business on earth which means eveything they do is focused on better serving the customer. And what we mean by that is that they are driven by a desire to provide an ever more excellent customer experience.

Note - this is not just about how they respond when things go wrong; it is about knowing enough about you that mistakes aren't made in the first place. No one wants great customer service, they want great customer experiences.

In previous posts and discussions I have talked about the top down and bottom up creation of trust (trust defined as knowing that the other party has your best interests at heart).

The bottom-up version is illustrated by moments of over delivery against expectation, delivered by real live humans: The guy in the Disney store who takes back the obviously dropped and broken salt and pepper shaker with the words "Gee, I'm sorry, I didn't wrap that well enough"; The bespoke booking service a car rental company delivers in response to expressed need on twitter. These are the moments that wow us and inspire us to become advocates to our peers (the most powerful marketing there is|).

Amazon delivers its wow at scale by knowing us. That's the data. That's delivered by systems of Enterprise Data Management (EDM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). But crucially it required Amazon to be customer-led in all its business processes (and management thereof - BPM) to deliver the experience so many now aspire to.

I say customer-led because 'centricity' implies they want to do something to the customer, led means they work in partnership with the customer, and that is the real key to building trust. Partners have each other's best interests at heart.
It's not just about the data (not even just the social data), it's not just about the CRM, it's not just about the EDM. It's not even just about the BPM. And this, I think, is critical for our understanding: A business that wants the advantages of Amazonsation (the almost psychic ability to match supply with demand, to anticipate need, to build a relationship of trust with its customers, to populate the world with wow-moment stories) requires a piece of big picture, vision-led thinking.
Of course firms need help to work out how best to fix the problems they have. But they don't just want a repair. They want to be taken to the next level - beyond what the best delivers today. That's just hygiene in a world operating at the pace we see around us. So if you find yourself moving to solutions; listing out the tactics to deploy, pause and ask if you've spent enough time working out if this is the right problem to solve.
Those of us engaged in trying to build a better future know that this is not just to fix the problems we see around us now, it is also to provide a vision of what's that better future looks like.
No senior exec buys a CRM program or invests in BPM. They buy a better company. They care more what that better company looks like than about the tactical and technical tools you will use to deliver it.
So assuming we can take all that as read it seems to me we should be spendng more time helping create visions of the perfect customer (or other stakeholder) experience, their perfect day, and only then starting work on the tools and processes which take us there.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?