Be Like Amazon | Jeffrey Eisenberg

Summary of: Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It
By: Jeffrey Eisenberg


Imagine sipping coffee as you uncover the secrets behind Amazon’s success and learn how to apply them to your own business. In ‘Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It’, Jeffrey Eisenberg shares a thought-provoking conversation between ‘Poobah’ and ‘Sunshine’ as they explore the unifying principles and success stories of companies like Amazon, Costco, and Kesslers Diamonds, while understanding the downfall of giants like Eastman Kodak. Discover the four key principles that govern successful companies, understand the importance of nurturing a culture of innovation, and explore real-life examples of how to delight customers and spark word-of-mouth advertising.

The Power of Pleasant Surprises

During a road trip, an older man and his protégé stop at Starbucks, where the older man tips the barista double the amount, surprising and delighting her. This act sparks a conversation between the two about how great companies like Amazon wow their customers, and why others have fallen. The message here is about the power of pleasant surprises, and how they can positively impact people’s day-to-day lives.

Kodak’s Downfall

Sunshine reveals how Eastman Kodak failed to adapt to new technology and went from being a pioneering photography firm to going bankrupt in 2012. The book outlines four “unifying principles” Eastman followed, which helped the company grow and become a market leader. Eastman Kodak sold 90% of the camera film and 85% of the cameras in the US and had 145,000 employees worldwide by 1988. However, by abandoning its third and fourth principles, Kodak failed to pioneer new developments in digital photography and didn’t listen to its customers. This ultimately led to the company’s downfall.

Navigating Life Successfully

Poobah’s four types of people in the “ocean of life” discusses the qualities of drifters, surfers, drowners, and navigators. While drifters go with the flow and surfers ride trends, they eventually fall. Drowners whine and complain without progress. Successful people navigate through life with unifying principles and the use of available resources. Poobah points out that personal beliefs change based on actions, not words. When organizations lose sight of their guiding principles, departments and divisions emerge, leading to turf wars and blame games. Poobah’s insights show how navigating through life successfully entails understanding individual principles.

Unifying Principles for Business Success

Successful companies follow unifying principles to ensure they don’t fail and abandon what their customers need and want. These principles are different from mission statements as they focus on actionable steps rather than words. Amazon, for example, has its “four stone pillars” – customer centricity, continuous optimization, culture of innovation, and corporate agility – which define the company’s brand. Despite being criticized for lack of profitability, Amazon has achieved $100 billion in annual sales and claimed 50% of all e-commerce worldwide through excellent customer service and adherence to its principles. The importance of customer retention and loyalty generated by customer service cannot be underestimated, and companies that follow these principles inevitably achieve success. Those who can delay gratification and focus on long-term goals, like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, and Julius Rosenwald, are often the ones leading companies to glory. In summary, successful companies stay focused on their unifying principles, which guide their actions, and ultimately lead to their success.

The Power of Customer Centricity

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, prioritized customer centricity by using honest reviews to help customers make informed purchases. Forrester Research ranks companies based on their customer treatment, with customer experience leaders and laggards reflecting their stock performance. Between 2007 to 2013, leaders increased by 43% while laggards decreased by 33.9%. This correlation between stock price and customer centricity proves its significance in a successful business. As Bezos said, “Word of mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected.”

Customer Satisfaction through Exceptional Service at Kesslers Diamonds

A story about Richard Kessler and his jewelry store that highlights his unique business approach of providing excellent service and a no-loopholes guarantee to his customers.

Richard Kessler’s jewelry store operates on a unique business approach that focuses on customer satisfaction. Unlike most jewelers, Kessler does not inflate prices, forcing customers to negotiate. He believes in charging reasonable prices and providing a “miraculous no-loopholes guarantee” so that his customers can rely on his store for quality products. Kessler does not offer sales or discounts but provides a lifetime guarantee on all gemstones. His employees receive extensive training and are empowered to make decisions that make customers happy.

Kessler encourages his employees to surprise customers as it triggers word of mouth marketing. For instance, the employees at the flagship store in Menomonee Falls went all out during Christmas by decorating the store with lights and ornaments. Although the cost of the decorations was $36,000, Kessler felt it was a great investment. The store made its money back in 24 hours with cars lining up to see the display, and the event even caught the attention of various TV stations, and the mayor of the city gave the company a beautification award.

Kessler’s unique business approach has earned him recognition from various customers, and he has expanded his business by opening another store in Milwaukee. Overall, the story of Kesslers Diamonds emphasizes the significance of providing exceptional service and ensuring customer satisfaction for the success of a business.

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