Recent news show that Millenials, those who were born from 1983 to 1997, chose Amazon as its customer service champion while the Boomers, those who were born from 1946 to 1864, ranked Amazon second. This speaks volumes in terms of Amazon’s scope and influence, as more consumers with spending money prefer the digital shopping experience and lean towards retailers with omni channel initiatives. While the digital revolution has influenced preference, the fact still remains that Amazon has been a pioneer in delivering unmatched customer service, even back in the early days of Internet commerce.
Perhaps we can trace this quality with its CEO Jess Bezos. Bezos has always placed great value on customer service and champions customers like no other. It is a well-known fact in the industry that he leaves an empty seat during conference meetings and informs everyone that the empty seat is occupied by the most important person in the room – the customer. He also encourages all employees to attend two days of call center training every year to instill humility and empathy for the customer, something he doesn’t even excuse himself from. Amazon’s entire approach to everything comes with just one goal in mind – to make the customer happy.
From decoding the fact that customer service starts from Amazon’s top head honcho, we list three ways Amazon.com proves its spot as a customer service champion with authentic customer service stories from customer themselves:
1. Maintaining good customer experience takes precedence over who makes the sale, Amazon or an outside merchant.
Amazon has proven that making customers happy comes first over everything, even over making a profit. It would gladly even accept profit loss if this means rectifying an initial bad customer service.
Back in 2009, Lisa Dias ordered a workbook that was listed as “like new” from an Amazon merchant seller. When she received it, the book wasn’t anything like new and after attempts to contact the concerned merchant was met with no responses, she contacted Amazon. Amazon immediately gave her a refund, without requiring her to return the book. Dias knew Amazon wasn’t really the one who received her money so they lost money to cover for a merchant. This had a profound effect on her, making her feel the Amazon stood up for her.
Amazon also doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes to losing profit over making customer happy. They could be making a lot of money by charging for shipping but they’ve chosen not too. In 2009, Thomas J. Szkutak, Amazon CFO, said they lose 600 million dollars a year as foregone shipping revenue. But Bezos’ mindset was if you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Indeed, word of mouth is very powerful – Bezos slashed the advertising budget to make sure the free shipping feature happens, essentially directing advertising money towards customer satisfaction. This legendary move was what made Amazon, Amazon! Bezos made his customers the marketers – and it worked.
2. Amazon continues to cultivate a customer-first culture.
From service delivery policies, site improvements and the whole online shopping experience, Amazon continues to drive its improvements with the customer in mind. Site loads are maintained at less than a second, even with heavy traffic, shipping is promised with guarantee and even comes for free with Prime membership and lately, the whole shopping experience now comes with bundles, recommendations and search engine enhancements. This top-level improvements trickle down to micro-level, so much so that customers are awed by the extent Amazon helps its customers.
A famous story about the missing PS3 a father ordered for his son for Christmas is a great example of Amazon’s customer-first culture. He expected it to arrive a few days before Christmas and when it didn’t, a few calls with an Amazon customer service agent confirmed that the item was missing. The agent reassured that they believed that he’d never gotten the package even if the delivery papers had someone sign for its receipt and agreed to send out a replacement, making sure it arrive in time for Christmas without charging him extra for shipping.
Take case of George Parker as another example. He bought one of the first-generation Kindles and after a week, dropped it on the floor and stood on it. An explanation to Amazon resulted into a shipment of a new Kindle with a pre-paid package delivered so he can return the damaged Kindle at no extra cost. No questions asked. This incident made Parker not only an Amazon customer for life but also a loyal advocate.
3. Amazon isn’t afraid to apologize.
And this trait starts with Bezos. In 2009, Amazon remotely deleted copies of the books “1984” and “Animal Farm” from its users’ Kindles, prompting an outcry of disappointment from Internet users. Amazon was quick to make an apology by issuing a press statement but what really appeased customers and make people return to Amazon was an informal and heartfelt apology from Bezos. His apology was seen as sincere and honest, owing up to Amazon’s mistake.
And while this apology can be embarrassing, it speaks louder than any advertising cover-up Amazon planned to make over the screw-up. Customers felt it was a heartfelt apology from an organization that cares, especially since its top executive was the one to personally say sorry.
The future of Amazon seems bright, even with the ever-changing digital landscape and preferences of growing customer bases. As long as they keep the heart of its company the happiness of its customers, they are guaranteed a loyal base of consumers – and businesses can certainly pick up more than a thing or two on how they cultivate the customer-first culture in their company.
Nowadays, the traditional landline phone customer service that businesses have may not serve your customers well—considering that we’re living in the technology era. Having customer support in other types of network such as through online and mobile are some of the customer assistance services we have, which can take your entire customer service to a whole new level. Learn more!