We’re all familiar with Amazon. The company Amazon, whose owner is the richest man in the world. Born from a niche website in the mid-1990s that sold books online, Amazon has grown into a retail and technology behemoth that dominates pretty much any category it chooses to sink its teeth into.

One of the (many) reasons Amazon is so successful is the way they look at consumers and short- versus long-term growth strategy. To hear the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, tell it, Amazon is successful because of one key component.

“The number one thing that has made us successful by far is the obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

There are numerous examples that can be pointed to in order to prove this point. One that most people are familiar with is Amazon Prime. When introduced, critics hailed Prime as a loss leader that was going to drive the company’s bottom line into the ground. On the contrary, Prime has been one of the most successful and expansive programs Amazon has to offer their customers.

And it was all developed with a focus on what the customer wanted. Amazon knew people loved free shipping – the origin and basis of Prime – and with a focus on long-term strategy, it was implemented even with the heavy roadblocks. Today, the competition has been trying to play catch-up to Amazon instead of the other way around.

Focus on YOUR Consumers

I’ve said this piece of truth before, but it bears repeating with this topic. As community financial institutions, we’re certainly not the big fish in our ponds. In most markets, there’s a national bank brand, a larger regional bank or credit union, or just a larger competitor that can knock us around.

With this type of market and market share situation, many times we can find our focus shifting from “do the best for our core consumers” to “do what’s best to compete with XYZ Bank.” And it’s exactly this type of thinking that puts our focus on what Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Navy Federal, etc. are doing instead of what OUR consumers are asking for.

Being a community financial institution has one huge advantage: we are more connected with our customers or members than the larger institutions. Which means we have the ability to easily reach out and find out what people are asking for in OUR market. Each market is different, priorities for consumers are different, and so should our consumer satisfaction strategy.

Where is your focus? Does your bank or credit union focus on the consumer, or the competition?