Research & Strategy

Be obsessed with your clients, not competitors

  • Kamil Tatol

  • Mar 06, 2024

  • 10 min read

  • Mar 06, 2024

  • 10 min read

In a world where everyone’s glancing sideways, focus is the ultimate game-changer. And focusing on the right thing distinguishes successful companies from those that fail. Learn from tech titans – it’s all about your clients, not your rivals.

Apple’s customer-centrism

Apple knew it long ago – the traditional way of keeping up and comparing to competitors is no longer valid. This tech giant’s design philosophy revolves around putting its audience at the centre of every important decision. Apple makes its customers feel heard and seen, using information about their preferences, pain points and behaviours to exceed their expectations—all that to provide the best experience possible.

Anticipate & address: a point about customer needs

Let’s break down Apple’s approach to see their customer-centric workflow in more detail.

  1. User research and empathy: iEmpire invests heavily in research, surveys, and usability testing to understand its audience deeply. Empathy helps Apple understand its customers’ aspirations and frustrations with the aim of solving real-world problems.
  2. Simplicity and intuitiveness: it’s no news that Apple’s products are renowned for their simplicity. By focusing on intuition and not complexity, Apple allows even non-technical users to navigate their devices easily.
  3. Ecosystem: from iCloud to Handoff, Apple’s ecosystem is a masterpiece in customer-centrism. Consistency, convenience and seamlessness make people enjoy using the Cupertino Giant’s products.
  4. Devil in the details: Apple obsesses not only with its clients but also with even the most minor details of their devices. Smooth animation transitions, satisfying clicks of the MacBook trackpad and every other subtle touch enhance the user experience. Apple understands that the delight comes from the details.

The benefits of customer-centrism

Investing a significant amount of resources to anticipate and address customer needs has clear benefits:

  1. Loyal customer base: commitment to satisfaction creates a fiercely loyal audience. People not only buy Apple products, but they become the brand’s advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth.
  2. Leadership: there’s no doubt that Apple products dominate their respective markets thanks to being consistently innovative and user-centric.
  3. Profitability: a deep commitment to its customers allows Apple to maintain the premium price tag. The iEmpire’s clients feel cared for and don’t mind the higher cost.
  4. Brand perception: Apple is synonymous with quality, elegance, and reliability. The brand is associated with exceptional design and cutting-edge tech.

BlackBerry’s reactive spiral

Technological history encompasses many successes, but also many failures. Some of them resonate to this day, serving as a cautionary tale. The BlackBerry decline was indeed rapid and brutal, but what exactly led to its downfall? The truth is that BlackBerry got sucked into a reactive spiral without the ability to break free.

How BlackBerry failed to adapt

The BlackBerry’s physical QWERTY keyboard was a blast, especially with its well-functioning messaging platform. For a long time, the brand’s devices were a first choice for government officials and business professionals, who praised their security and embraced the BlackBerry as a productivity tool and status symbol.


However, as the market evolved, so did the customer preferences. Touchscreens, app ecosystems and sleek designs became the norm. Smartphones transitioned from business-centric devices into something ubiquitous that blended work and personal life.


Not able to see it, BlackBerry clung to its outdated modus operandi. Instead of innovating, they got defensive. This reluctance led to a slow erosion when consumers switched to Android and Apple devices. By the time BlackBerry adopted Android, it was already too late. The market was in the hands of its competitors.

The consequences of competitor-focused strategy

BlackBerry didn’t elevate its unique strengths in time; instead, it engaged in a futile game of catch-up. It tried to mimic the touchscreen devices in various ways, like developing the app ecosystem. Alas, this forced adaptation to customer needs came too late. That, combined with BlackBerry’s stubbornness and narrow view of its audience, led to many fatal consequences.

Neglecting the user experience has made BlackBerry’s devices unintuitive, frustrating and downright clunky. Once mentioned in the same breath as productivity and reliability, they were quickly associated with outdated technology, even in the corporate environment. The sales plummet led to financial strain which forced another reaction in form of cost-cutting by layoffs. The death knell was the WhatsApp decision not to continue supporting the BlackBerry devices, effectively rendering them obsolete for many users who still favoured them. Subsequent massive migration to other platforms quickly rendered BlackBerry irrelevant.

Ultimate competitive advantage? Customer loyalty

Making your brand a household name is what customer loyalty is all about. Retaining and nurturing existing customers might even be more important than attracting new ones. In a never-ending pursuit of gaining a significant edge over its competitors, Amazon placed its customer satisfaction at the top.

Amazon’s obsession with customer experience

Jeff Bezos famously declared Amazon’s primary focus: the customer. His obsession shapes every aspect of his company’s operations. The seamless online shopping experience, hassle-free returns, and efficient delivery? Amazon has it all. Pushing the boundaries of personalisation, Amazon developed sophisticated algorithms that analyse user preferences and behaviours. All that to make the shopping journey more enjoyable and convenient.

To further foster customer loyalty, Amazon created its Prime membership program, which offers even faster shipping, exclusive deals, and streaming services. As a result, Amazon customers tend to spend more time on the platform, exploring the additional services and increasing their lifetime value. This way, Amazon turned many one-time buyers into loyal customers who eagerly use its websites on a daily basis. And loyal customers mean free word-of-mouth marketing. Recommending Amazon to friends, colleagues, and family has contributed to its growth tremendously. Despite the market turbulences, the company’s market share and influence continue to expand. It’s clear that the customer loyalty acts as a moat against them.

From DVDs to streaming: how Netflix navigated market changes

Often, the market evolves so rapidly that it forces companies that want to retain their competitive edge to make drastic decisions. Netflix is a prime example of a company that successfully navigated market changes thanks to its heavy reliance on customer feedback. Listening to customers has enabled Netflix to pivot from DVD rentals to streaming services. Fuelled by its primary focus, the user preferences, the Netflix story is almost the inverse of the BlackBerry story. Let’s see what the streaming giant did right.

  1. Understanding user behaviour: Netflix recognised the shift in consumer habits very early. The demand for VOD was rising rapidly. Rather than fixating on what other companies in the industry were doing, Netflix turned its attention elsewhere. By surveying user behaviour, Netflix has made a breakthrough by firmly realising that convenience, choice, and instant access are the future of electronic entertainment.
  2. Iterative enhancement: of course, Netflix didn’t make a massive leap from DVD rentals to streaming overnight. All features we’re accustomed to, like a personalised recommendation, binge-watching capabilities and cross-device experience, were created during a meticulous iterative process. Netflix tested and measured every one of its ideas, getting constant feedback from its audience to achieve a close alignment with consumers’ expectations.
  3. Action-based feedback: Netflix insights came not only from passive sources like telemetry but also from encouraging its users to perform specific actions, like rating shows and movies. It enabled Netflix to refine content recommendations but also gain valuable knowledge on what resonated with particular groups of its customers. The feedback loop was born, allowing Netflix to adapt even faster and stay ahead of the curve.

Taking risks and innovating for its customer’s sake, Netflix disrupted the industry and challenged the traditional distribution models. Embracing streaming when others struggled and hesitated was an outstanding move. The early investment in original content also shows that Netflix strongly valued customer feedback, believing the data gathered this way is indisputable. This unwavering faith has led Netflix to make more leaps, expanding its global influence and localising its content. The platform testimony speaks for itself: it’s now available in 190 countries.

Google’s path to dominance

Let’s face it: most internet users don’t know about the existence of any search engines other than Google. And for a reason. What started as a simple yet ambitious mission of organising the world’s information and making it universally accessible evolved into a vast array of products and services. Google strived to understand the expectations of its users and achieved considerable success. By not chasing after its rivals, Google first focused on refining its algorithms to gain insights into its future customers’ online behaviour. The goal was to provide the most accurate, relevant, and valuable search results, but the data collected by Google also enabled it to anticipate customer needs perfectly.

The company expanded into email with Gmail, mapping with Google Maps and cloud storage with Google Drive. Each product addressed a specific user pain point, solving real-world problems and consequently making our lives easier. However, Google’s core service, the search engine, also updates constantly, not only under the hood. With the introduction of personalised search results, featured snippets and voice search, Google constantly ensures its relevance, caring for the customer experience even while maintaining 91,62% of the global search engine market.

This approach is clearly visible in Google’s clean interface and minimal ads – something that’s not common even nowadays and was virtually unheard of when AdWords was introduced back in 2000. Fostering trust even more, Google has opted for transparent privacy policies. The company needed users to rely on its services for unbiased information, which in turn translated to loyalty and repeated visits.

Even Google Ads aren’t treated as reluctantly as other types of advertising. They align with user intent, providing relevant content that profits both the advertisers and Google. In a constant desire to push the boundaries even further, Google invests heavily in machine learning, natural language processing, and AI-driven features with the aim of making them a part of our everyday lives, just like its other services.


The evidence is clear: customer-centricity reigns supreme. From Apple’s vision to Amazon’s household name status, the tech giants prioritise clients over competitors. They rely on customer feedback, gain data on user behaviour wherever possible, anticipate needs and address desires, reaping the benefits of loyalty-driven outcomes. BlackBerry’s decline further proves this point, showing us what shouldn’t be done in the face of market changes. At the same time, Netflix’s outstanding pivot and Google’s dominance underscore the power of obsessing with clients. Learning from their stories, we can watch sustainable growth unfold and create a wall that won’t crumble even in the face of the most severe financial crisis.

Kamil Tatol

Kamil Tatol


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