Putting user needs ahead of short-term business goals

Duncan Stephen
Thursday 31 July 2014

Customer-centric and easy-to-use is the new business model (The Alibaba story)

In the wake of Alibaba going public, Gerry McGovern has assessed the company’s success. Putting the customer’s needs ahead of the business’s superficial short-term needs pays dividends in the long run.

So, what has helped make Alibaba so successful? According to founder Jack Ma, “We know well we haven’t survived because our strategies are farsighted and brilliant, or because our execution is perfect, but because for 15 years we have persevered in our mission of “making it easier to do business across the world,” because we have insisted on a “customer first” value system.” The motto of Alibaba is “Customer first, employee second, shareholder third.” (Amazon’s motto is essentially the same: “We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.)…

Why? The customer today is more powerful, in control, sceptical, cynical, less deferent, more brand disloyal. Customers today look far more to other customers like themselves than they do to advertising or marketing, or CEOs or other figureheads. There has been a collapse in trust in organizations and traditional power structures. And it is richly deserved.

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