I was presented with a rather audacious statement from Amazon.com Customer Service the other day, which really made me think about them as a brand, and my experience with Amazon over the years:
Wow. “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.”
That is big, it’s bold, and it’s risky for a brand to make the promise to fulfill on that 24/7 every week of the year.
Service recovery design pays off
Of course the shopping and purchasing experience on Amazon has been exceptional for years. But what if a customer has a post-purchase problem? A big part of customer experience design is a focus on “service recovery,” or designing and refining the process when something goes wrong for the customer. Beloved brands like Zipcar know this is a critical opportunity for delivering moments of delight.
Micah Solomon offers great insight in his recent service recovery post on Forbes.com. Solomon smartly concludes the article reinforcing the ultimate KPI for most businesses in today’s Age of the Customer: that of lifetime value. A great, real-world example of the potential result is Zappos. As a result of their stand-out service recovery design, a customer is 3-4x more likely to purchase again if their first purchase involved a return.
Revolutionizing the “Contact Us” experience
Last week, there was a snafu with an on-demand video I’d downloaded from Amazon to my TiVo. I was able to watch “Monsters University” (yes, it’s awesome) just fine, but the bonus feature, a making-of-the-movie / behind-the-scenes at Pixar, had no audio. I called Amazon to find out if it there was something wrong with the video, or if it was just user error.
When I found the contact page on the site, I was happily surprised to see not only email, call, and chat, but something I haven’t seen before: “Call Me” buttons to save customers the time and pain of the typical IVR experience. If there’s any kind of wait time to talk with someone, you can opt for an Amazon customer support rep to call you when you’re at the front of the queue. They will call you when there’s no wait. Plus, they know who you are and you can actually talk with a human being when you pick up the phone.
Well played, Amazon.
Accountability as a pillar of experience
The customer service rep was congenial, helpful, and apologetic about the inconvenience to me. This gentleman knew who I was, and had access to my long history with Amazon; I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for years now, so there was plenty of data on me there. I was impressed that he was able to diagnose the problem so quickly, even though the “Monsters University” download was just made available earlier that day.
It turns out the digital file supplied to Amazon was the problem. Meanwhile, Amazon took full responsibility for my “inconvenience” (even when I admitted I didn’t know I would get bonus features when I made the purchase – silly me). The gentleman still apologized many times on behalf of Amazon, said he would send me an email when the replacement file became available, and gave me a credit on my next video download.
Even though the credit will likely have little direct impact on my future purchase patterns (I’ve always been an avid Amazon shopper,) his actions and words really made me feel like the loyal, valued Amazon customer that I believe I am.
My part in helping build “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”
One of the big buzz phrases these days is “brand engagement.” I think Amazon may be one of the only brands that I truly engage with. I really like Amazon. I like buying from them… and I don’t even like shopping.
I like giving Amazon my money. I like writing this article about them, and I like telling friends and family why they should buy from Amazon too. So when I received the email follow-up from Customer Service, documenting the resolution and asking for my feedback, and more importantly, telling me the reason why I should give feedback, it made me think. Why am I so engaged with Amazon?
Amazon has taken the mundane (for me) activity of shopping, and eliminated the hassles. I’ve opted (and paid for the subscription) to get my purchases two days later with no shipping charges. Their product reviews almost always influence my purchase decisions. The recommendations Amazon offers are almost always spot on. And now I know that when I have a problem, I know they’re going to have my back, and I won’t have to stay on hold waiting to talk with someone in Customer Service.
They make the bold statement that they are “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company,” and this kind of vision, this kind of North Star, is clearly what drives day-to-day decisions at every level of the company. The massive technology ecosystem they’ve put in place enables that vision. And what I’ve now seen from Customer Service, the culture and process seem to revolve around that brand promise as well.
Again, Amazon; well played.
Do you think Amazon is the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”? If not, who is?