Amazon’s #1 Business Secret

Obsessing Over Customers

A few words from Amazon’s Founder, Jeff Bezos

Okay, my new favorite book is Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (CEO of So what does that have to do with Amazon … besides the fact that in 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for about $1 billion? — I’ll get to that…

There are several reasons to love this book, but if you know anything about, it’s probably that they are a benchmark for customer service. In fact, their company tag line (deservedly so) is simply, “Powered by Service™.” They are world famous for their free shipping (both ways!) and their uber-liberal 365-day return policy, but there is so much more to this company. Their innovative approach to customer service is revolutionary and their success secrets … well … aren’t really secrets. In fact, you can read all about their approach to business, leadership, teamwork, innovation and of course world-class customer service in the book.

On to Jeff Bezos

In Delivering Happiness, Hsieh tells of the long-standing positive relationship that existed between Zappos and Amazon well before the partnership ensued. In the audio version of his book, which the author reads himself, you’ll also hear the voices of many Zappos employees, a customer or two and that of Jeff Bezos all reading to you.

In the following quote from Jeff Bezos, Founder of, he explains that your energy is far better spent focusing on your customers than on your competitors

“The first thing I know is that you need to obsess over customers. I can tell you we have been doing this from the very beginning and it’s the only reason that exists today in any form. We’ve always put customers first – when given the choice of obsessing over competitors or obsessing over customers, we always obsess over customers. We pay attention to what our competitors do but it’s not where we put our energy; it’s not where we get our motivation from. We really like to start with customers and work backwards. And again, that is the key thing that I know and it covers a lot of other mistakes. If you’re truly obsessed over customers it’ll cover a lot of errors.”

(To watch Bezos discuss this and other top strategies (for world domination), you can watch his 8-minute video on YouTube)

Your Turn

Are you obsessing over your competition … or your customers? I’d love to hear from you.


  1. Great post, Steve. I’ve heard about the book from several friends, but I’m looking forward to picking it up for myself.

    It’s so easy to be distracted by what the competition is doing. We focus on putting aside at least an hour of our morning just calling our past and current clients serving their needs. Our goal is have them be raving fans so they in turn generate more business. If we keep spending time doing this, we won’t ever need to worry about the competition!

  2. @Alyce: I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the book. There are enough innovative business ideas in there to keep anyone busy for at least a year.

    Clearly you obsess over clients … not competitors. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good one once again, Steve. I’m reading Delivering Happiness now myself, and I think of you as I read it. Tony Hsieh stole YOUR stuff! What a combo company Amazon and Zappos must be now. The challenge of integrating company cultures can kill a merger, but these guys were cut from the same cloth. I can’t wait to see how they top themselves.

  4. This is really a great book. I listened to the audio version, and LOVED it. One of the many things I took from this book was when Tony said, “The reason people don’t like to come to work on Monday is because they have to leave a piece of themselves at home.” He not only focused on the client, he focused on how to help employees LOVE THEIR company. Which, in turn, helped with client service. Happy employees = happy clients = delivering happiness.

    To your q, Steve….I only look at my competition to see where I can differ. Bankers typically do everything the same old way. I don’t want to be thought of by my clients as a “typical” banker. To this note, I “obsess” over my clients in that I rarely talk about banking. We talk about their families, friends, weekends, events….things they truly enjoy. They came to me because they know and trust that I know what I’m doing professionally.

    There is no value in rate or price. There is value in professionalism, trust and friendship. This helps me feel comfortable that one day I won’t wake up and have all my clients gone because another bank has a higher rate.


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