In his most recent annual letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos shared some perspectives on customer satisfaction:
The American Customer Satisfaction Index recently announced the results of its annual survey, and for the 8th year in a row customers ranked Amazon #1. The United Kingdom has a similar index, The U.K. Customer Satisfaction Index, put out by the Institute of Customer Service. For the 5th time in a row Amazon U.K. ranked #1 in that survey…
One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something’s in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.
One example I frequently use to illustrate rising expectations is smartphones. Apple had an ACSI score of 83 in 2012 (the iPhone 4 era). By 2017, the iPhone 7 had four times the storage capacity, a 4.7 inch screen vs. a 3.5 inch screen, a 50% higher resolution rear camera, screen resolution of 1334 x 750 vs. 960 x 640, and a choice of seven colors vs. two (black and white). What impact did all these improvements have on Apple’s smartphone ratings?
Apple had a score of 81 in 2017.
Rising expectations indeed.
(Caveat: The score measures satisfaction of the overall installed base, not just satisfaction with the most recent phone from the prior year, but given growth in unit sales that seems a fair proxy.)