Monday, September 10, 2007

7-Eleven &

When comparing 7-Eleven and, both CEOs do a remarkable job of understanding customer insights. While Jeff Bezos uses his goofy attitude, Jim Keyes capitalizes on popular trends to put his customer’s needs first. In “Mighty Amazon,” Jeff Bezos is portrayed as a silly guy while at his photo shoot. Jumping on a trampoline and posing for a picture, Bezos makes jokes and talks with the photographer. It appears that Bezos is a personable guy who would do anything to satisfy others, especially his customers. In other instances, Bezos is portrayed as “all business” with his direct reports. Although Bezos is firm with his employees, he uses technology to make sure that his customers are happy and receive their products in a timely manner. When asked about customer service, “Bezos isn’t interested in a qualitative answer.” Because Bezos has built his business on convenience, “he wants to know average customer contacts per order, average time per contact, the breakdown of e-mail vs. telephone contacts, and the total cost to the company of each.” Bezos has all of his warehouses computerized so that employees can transfer orders as quickly as possible. Bezos has also welcomed competitors so that Amazon “doesn’t have to advertise that its prices are lower because consumers themselves can now compare prices.” Bezos took two things, books and the Internet, and combined them by taking an insight and creating a convenient service for his consumers.

7-Eleven is a prime example of a company that values their customer insights. This is evident when you look at their birth in the convenience store industry. Joe C. Thompson realized the demand for convenience and chose to create “a chain of stores that would stay open from 7 am to 11 pm.” Not every company will have a pot of macadamia-nut coffee for a single customer that stops in like one of Keyes’s store managers does at a 7-Eleven in San Francisco. Keyes seems to do a great job in leading by example and letting his employees know his expectations of customer service. With the use of their NEC handhelds, 7-Eleven employees make sure that products low in stock are on the shelf the following morning. Similar to Amazon, Keyes has transformed 7-Eleven “from having no idea what we were selling to predicting what customers want even before they know it,” according to Podeschi, 7-Eleven’s senior vice president for merchandising. 7-Eleven utilizes the insights from its customers by searching for trends and then creating a product to complement the trend. An example of this can be seen by looking at the sales of cleaning wipes. Employees noticed that cleaning wipes were increasing quickly so they brainstormed to come up with a product they could sell to maximize on the cleaning wipe phenomenon. 7-Eleven also took their customer insights and turned them into an experience for the customer when they created Road Kill gummy candy. Employees knew that kids liked “things that are over-the-top gross” so they took that insight and created Road Kill gummies to please their young clientele. Keyes was also one of the early members to create a credit card reader for his customer’s convenience at the gas pump. While some argued that these card readers would decrease sales because customers would not purchase impulse items, Keyes found an increase in sales as 7-Eleven began to have more female customers because they did not want to leave their kids to pay inside.

As a customer of both and 7-Eleven, I feel better knowing that the CEOs of both companies truly care about their consumers. Keyes has been able to spot new fads and trends amongst his customers and transform them into new products or services while Bezos capitalized on convenience for his consumers. Keyes’s employees appear happier because they can individualize their stores and offer different products to their specific clientele, and Bezos’s workers could possibly face sacrificing customer service for fear of displeasing their boss. Still, both companies have managed to continue to maximize the insights of their customers.

1 comment:

ForrestBloede said...

Great points about the companies and their use of customer insights; focus more on the topic and less on the actual history.