Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos is famously obsessed with his customers.
In Amazon’s 2016 letter to shareholders, he writes:
“Customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.”
This isn’t just big talk from the top.
Amazon walks the talk by going above and beyond in customer support.
This philosophy is how Amazon commands revenues exceeding $100 billion a year and insanely loyal customers.
Aiming to help retailers to cope with rising customer expectations, we looked into some customer experience best practices and summarized the 5 things e-retailers can take out of the Amazon customer service playbook.
#1: Put Your Customer First
In the stolen Playstation story, Amazon showed they were willing to correct mistakes that they didn’t even make – all to delight their customers.
They could have chosen to do nothing.
But Amazon chose to care and solve their customer’s problem.
The result? Extremely happy customers and a viral customer service story.
The lesson: Loyal customers buy more, tell others about you and cost less to retain. It’s the best outcome for any business. Invest in it.
#2: It’s All About The Long Term
Amazon makes decisions with a ‘long-term lens’ – foregoing short term profits for long term market leadership.
For example, It is unclear if popular Amazon Prime programme is profitable for Amazon.
GeekWire estimates free shipping on Prime purchases cost the online retailer up to $7.2 billion in 2016 alone.
Yet, with Prime members spending nearly double that of non-Prime members and membership exploding from 63 million to 90 million in 2017 alone, it’s clear Amazon Prime is a long term sustainable growth engine.
Amazon Prime has become so popular that Prime members even have their own retail ‘holiday’ – Prime Day.
That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?
The lesson: Focus on delivering value and your customers will stay with you. Eventually it pays off.
#3: Continuously Think Of New Ways To Delight Your Customers
“Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.” (Jeff Bezos)
In January 2018, Amazon opened Amazon Go, its first checkout-less convenience store to the public in Seattle.
Customers can walk in, scan an app on their phone, pick up the products they want and walk out.
It brings the convenience of the eCommerce online checkout to brick and mortar shops.
Amazon Go is Amazon applying their speciality in delighting their customers and anticipating customer wants into another market.
The lesson: Make the buying experience easy for your customers and they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
#4: Empower The Voice Of The Customer
When Amazon first allowed customer reviews in 1995, people thought this was a recipe for disaster.
Now, Amazon customer reviews are commonplace and one of the first references people turn to before buying online.
A retail website without feedback loops is considered dubious or passé.
Hence, customer reviews are vital to establish authenticity and social proof for your store.
With Amazon Official Contributions, vendors can communicate with their customers through comments on customer reviews and answerer frequently asked questions about their products.
The lesson: If you empower customers, your foster a win-win transparent environment for both vendors and your customers. It takes a bit of bravery, but will surely pay off.
#5: Apologise When You’re Wrong
In 2009, Amazon found out they were selling illegal copies of George Orwell’s novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ’1984’ .
They decided to remotely delete the books from their customer’s Kindles without consulting them.
Customers weren’t happy.
Instead of explaining away the error or doing nothing, Jeff Bezos himself posted a publicly available apology on the Amazon customer forums.
Customers could also get a replacement copy of the book or a $30 voucher.
The lesson: When mistakes happen, customers want to know that you’ve listening and that you can resolve the problem.
Take A Leaf Out Of Amazon’s Playbook
Clearly, Amazon’s focus on it’s customers is one of the keys to its success.
So, where can you start?
You may feel overwhelmed
You may wonder if you can pull this off.
However, remember even Amazon itself did not see success immediately.
It took many tweaks and learning experiences before they themselves got customer experience right.
It all begins with a single step.
With these strategies as a starting point, you can start putting your customer first and create a customer experience to match Amazon’s.