Staples’ Secret For Online Success? Extreme Customer Focus

Steve Matyas, CEO of Staples Canada discusses customer focus with Tema Frank

Steve Matyas, CEO of Staples Canada, says customer focus is key to their online success

Hard to imagine, given that Canada is still way behind when it comes to e-commerce, but Staples Canada was in the first wave of companies in the world to test the online waters. The secret to their success, says its CEO, Steve Matyas, was a strong customer focus, right from the beginning.

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That customer-centricity has helped Staples experience double-digit online growth since their first e-commerce site went up in 1997.

“We’ve taken every opportunity we can, because we are so customer centric, to interact with our customers and engage them in finding out what it is that they’re interested in: what they like, what they dislike.”

What Does Customer Focus Really Mean Online?

According to Steve, it means that:

  1. Customer experience and usability have to be at the core of what you offer.
  2. Usability testing should be ongoing
  3. Think Customer Lifetime Value, because it will likely take more than one purchase before the customer becomes a profit generator.
  4. Have a single point of contact for customer issues, especially those raised on social media.
  5. Empower your customer service staff to make your customers happy.
  6. Pay attention to social media. As Steve puts it, “you can be involved in the conversation, or you can play the ostrich, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you.”

How Do You Rate?

Think about your organization on these criteria. Where do you need improvement?

  • Have you thought through what the customer’s experience with you is?
  • Have you done recent usability testing on your website?
  • Do you know the average lifetime value of your customers?
  • Do your customers get the run-around if they try to contact you?
  • Are your customer service staff trained and empowered to solve your customers’ problems?
  • Is someone responsible for ongoing social media monitoring?

(This interview was first aired on July 1, 2013)


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