When it comes to offering first-rate customer service to millions of customers across the globe, no one does it quite like Amazon. This online retailer began as a virtual bookstore, but has expanded to offer nearly any type of merchandise you can think of. Despite its astronomical growth since its conception, one thing remains the same: Amazon is all about creating a positive experience for the customer.
Rising above the Crowd
Never has Amazon’s commitment to its customer been as evident as it was over the past holiday season. Christmas shoppers saw a myriad of delays in the delivery of their online purchases in many areas of the United States. The companies responsible for getting the orders to the customers, UPS and FedEx, blamed the inclement weather and a shorter shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Not Amazon. Despite the fact that the online retailer was at the mercy of the shipping companies to get the merchandise to their customers, Amazon shouldered all of the blame for late shipments. The company liberally handed out gift cards and paid shipping costs for disgruntled customers. Amazon managed to save face in the midst of a holiday crisis, while other companies ended up with a public relations black eye.
Staying on Top
It’s no wonder this online company has managed to stay on top of most customer service ratings in recent years. In fact, Amazon topped the list for Beyond Philosophy’s Global Leader Survey in Customer Service Management in 2013. The company also took the first spot on the fourth-quarter report from American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2012. On a similar list in the U.K., Amazon dropped a couple of positions in 2013, but still takes the number four spot in that country.
What is Amazon’s secret for staying on top? Most service gurus agree it is the customer-centric vision of the company that found Jeff Bezos has established since the company’s inception in 1994. Every change and expansion that has been introduced to the company has been instituted with the customer in mind.
Rules for Success
Amazon’s consistent success is based on a few customer-centric ideas:
• Understand the Customer – Every year, Amazon managers spend two days in call center to gain valuable understanding about the company’s customers.
• Consider the Customer – In the early Amazon years, Bezos brought an empty chair – the customer’s chair – to all corporate meetings so the customer’s viewpoint was always taken into account.
• Respect the Customer – Have a solid game plan for handling customer complaints and issues and always thank the customer for bringing their concern to the forefront.
• Serve the Customer – Identifying customer needs and catering to those needs is how the Amazon Kindle finally came to fruition.
• Apologize to the Customer – When a mistake is made, Amazon is not afraid to offer an apology for the mishap.
Amazon has the distinct advantage of hitting the ground running, thanks to the unswerving, customer-centric focus of Bezos. However, other companies can learn much from Amazon to transform their customer service departments from ho-hum to fantastic.