The Art and Science of Customer Insights

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Brand as business bit: The combination of listening to customers and digging into data is only one of the many fascinating insights revealed in Brad Stone‘s expose on Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, THE EVERYTHING STORE

In the book, Stone relays how random customer anecdotes are as valued at the company as spreadsheets of customer behavior and purchase data. Bezos personally reads many customer complaints and flags them to his executives in a practice that sparks a flurry of frenzied activity to be able to explain how the problem occurred and how it will be solved. 

The comments are viewed as “an audit that is done for us by our customers. We treat them as precious sources of information.” And yet, in weekly departmental meetings, teams review detailed data about their performance and are forced “to look at the numbers and answer every single question about why specific things happened.”

Most of the companies I come across excel at one of these approaches — qualitative customer listening or quantitative data analysis. I find it instructive that the world’s largest retailer engages in both practices — rigorously. Perhaps we can attribute the company’s impressive success in part to the combination of the two.

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