“Customer obsession”: Jeff Bezos’ golden rule

He started by selling books at the lowest price… How, from an extremely simple idea, and with the help of 14 mantras set up in management principles, Jeff Bezos made Amazon the world number one in commerce online. Extract from a document to see in “Further investigation” on April 22, 2021.


 

At the helm of the world’s number one online retailer, Jeff Bezos has built his empire from a very simple vision: to attract customers with the lowest prices. This is the cardinal principle of Amazon. He calls it “customer obsession”. And the word is not to be taken in the second degree … “I ask all my employees to wake up terrified, sweaty, the CEO exposed, hilariously, on an American television station. They should be afraid of customers, not of competitors. Customers are loyal to us until the second someone gives them better service. ”

Amazon’s logic: always more

“Customer obsession”, on the employee side, means in concrete terms: working as quickly as possible to guarantee extremely tight delivery times. At the Brétigny-sur-Orge warehouse, in the Paris region, they respond to the journalists of “Complément d’études” while preparing the orders. Here, 4,800 robots bring them directly to the yellow shelves where the products to be shipped are stored. No need to walk hundreds of meters of shelving: saving time… and space. Is “45% more inventory, and ultimately 45% more customers delivered with a single location”, says the director of the site, Stéphane Taillée. This is the logic of Amazon: always more …

But “customer obsession” is only one of the 14 management principles developed by Jeff Bezos. Fourteen mantras displayed in large print above employees in warehouses around the world. “To place the level of requirement always higher”, “To invest personally”, or “To recruit the best”, a credo also taken to the extreme. The first job offer, written by the “boss” himself, required a speed of execution three times greater than that of the best IT specialists … “He calls it ‘recruiting on a large scale’, reports the former vice-president of the firm, Diego Piacentini. You have to recruit people who are oversized for the company, and who will allow it to grow afterwards. ”

A “gold rush” and “crazy rhythm” atmosphere

Once the cracks are recruited, Bezos ensures their productivity. And he has everything planned… even a kennel with a capacity of 7,000 residents. This is for the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, but also in France, employees can come to work with their dogs. A “cool” image for the company, but also the guarantee that they will not waste their time on walks …

Jeff Bezos puts his employees under pressure, but from the start, he took his precautions. The employment contracts of the 1990s explicitly exonerate the employer in the event of “damage allegedly caused by stress at work”. Clear, “If you have a nervous breakdown while working here, we will not pay for your care”, decrypts a former editor-in-chief at Amazon. “It was like a gold rush, we had to win the stake, he testifies. So we had to work all the time, at a crazy pace. ”

Excerpt from “Jeff Bezos, Is the World His?” a document to see in “Further investigation” on April 22, 2021.





 

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