But one day.
I didn’t say it. Jeff Bezos (CEO, Founder, Gazillionaire) said it:
“One day Amazon will fail. We will go bankrupt. Company lifespans tend to be 30-plus years. If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of customers, that will be the beginning of the end. We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible.”
It’s hard to believe, based on the # of Amazon boxes I have laying around my place. (Some days, I think I’m personally keeping them afloat.)
What does all of this have to do with hiring?
Every. Single. Thing.
In 25 years of executive recruiting and building four companies, I’ve learned that some people are innately customer-focused. And others just aren’t.
You can’t teach ‘em. You can’t train ‘em. They just aren’t.
You saw it this month when you checked into that hotel. The front desk person didn’t welcome you warmly, with piercing eye contact, and gratitude. Instead, he kept his head down, busted your chops, uttered nothing other than “credit card and driver’s license, please.” He didn’t say thank you for choosing to stay with them. He didn’t come around the desk to hand you the key and shake your hand.
Bezos is right. Zero of the top 500 companies from a century ago are still with us. Your company will go bankrupt too.
Now, you likely don’t care because you’ll be long gone, retired, and/or dead.
But – if for some reason– you have an interest in delaying that day for as long as possible, then I implore you to never again hire someone who doesn’t care about customers. I mean CARE.
And I’m not limiting this to Sales or Customer Service reps (your front-line people). That’s obvious.
I’m talking about the Finance person who doesn’t obsess about customers. The Marketing person who doesn’t spend every waking moment going out and meeting with real-life customers. The ‘genius’ Software Developer who thinks that customers are a nuisance. Her intelligence is meaningless without a customer-obsession.
If a candidate doesn’t talk often and passionately about customers (without me first asking) during our interview, I summarily dismiss them.
Sadly, this is far too common. I’d estimate that 20% really give a cr*p.
Bezos isn’t always right. But he’s spot-on here.
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Because you can’t ask a candidate “So, are you focused on customers?” They’ll swear up and down “Yes, of course!”
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Hiring Rockstars will keep you out of bankruptcy court. And give you your weekends back to spend on the tennis court. Or the links. Or at a swanky hotel. Or wherever.
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