Books Were Never the Endgame
Since its founding 28 years ago, Amazon has reached near mythic status for its superior service and customer service strategy.
Says company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos: “I would define Amazon by our big ideas, which are customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of everything we do, [and] invention. We like to pioneer, we like to explore, we like to go down dark alleys and see what's on the other side.”
Now it’s time for you to leverage what Amazon has learned works – and doesn’t – to take advantage of their top customer service and customer experience strategies for your organization. And remember – no matter what industry or business you’re in, you’re competing with Amazon’s customer experience in the eyes of your customers anyhow – so you should consider adapting some these practices for your brand.
Start everything with a core commitment to the customer.
Customer service strategy is in the DNA of Amazon. In fact, you could argue that it is the DNA. Read the company’s vision/mission statement and you will see the words: “to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” Bezos has said his leadership decisions have many times fallen to these simple words. With a laser-focus on customer experience and service as guiding strategic forces, it’s no surprise that Amazon has risen to the top.
Build a corporate culture that knows how to listen.
Because CEO decisions aren’t enough, Amazon makes sure that people in the company internalize the vision. Whether entry level or executive, many Amazon employees have opportunities to attend two days of call-center training. The goal: get them to learn how to listen – not just talk – to customers. When you listen, you understand. And through understanding, you can take the appropriate steps to meet the needs of your customers.
Give your users the power of DIY service.
Amazon has an incredibly detailed yet easy-to-navigate help center, which lets you drill deep into a number of specific concerns. Under the hood, there are thousands of articles, but the surface experience is streamlined, visually appealing, and in sync with the website’s shopping experience where users search by category or by specific need. With streamlined help and customer service paths, shoppers save time and feel empowered as they find their own solutions.
Nurture a community of fellow customer support.
Sometimes, it takes a village to solve a problem. Through hosting numerous forums, Amazon has made it easy for shoppers to tap into the wisdom of the crowd to get their customer support. The benefits are numerous. When customers help one another, Amazon’s service representatives can handle customer requests at a faster pace. And those users who do help one another get the satisfaction that comes with knowing they are part of a community.
Make personal interactions an easy option.
If Amazon’s self-service FAQs or community forums can’t solve the problem, customers have the option of reaching out to a real person. Callers get 24/7 support and are almost never put on hold. Amazon has also amazed with a free customer support service called “Mayday.” Owners of Amazon Fire tablets can tap a “Mayday” button and get instantly connected via video to a tech advisor. The user sees the advisor live while the advisor only sees what’s on the phone screen. It’s yet another example of how important human interaction can be to ensure quality customer service.
Help your buyer stay connected – wherever they are, whenever they want.
The tipping point has passed for mobile commerce, and Amazon’s mobile-first approach has become an industry standard, an impressive feat given their vast array of products and categories. Streamlined and easy to navigate, Amazon’s site provides smart categorization and search functionality. With auto-fill, Prime, 1-click ordering, and other features, the shopping experience is one of convenience — now the expected norm for modern-day shoppers. Follow Amazon’s lead and meet your customer anywhere they are, as you build loyalty and appreciation by always keeping the mobile customer experience front of mind.
Foster relationships between customers and brands.
Amazon also wins points for advocating for the consumer when there is a problem with a vendor’s product or delivery process. In addition, the company builds relationships between its shoppers and hosted brands. And Amazon Exclusives is an initiative for entrepreneurs who want to promote their story. In the spirit of a crowdfunding website, the videos help shoppers feel more personally connected to companies and their products.
Make customer needs be the driver of innovation.
It’s important to remember that in 1994 when Amazon first started, the idea of making a purchase through “the information superhighway” was still new. Customers had to learn to trust the method of buying something online — a challenge Bezos met largely because he placed such strong emphasis on customer service. But books were never the end game for Amazon. Since then, the company has obviously expanded into other products and services to meet its shoppers’ content needs such as streaming and digital downloads. The company has also created its own products and services (Amazon Prime, the Kindle, Alexa....). The lesson here is to never get comfortable with your success. Customer preferences are always evolving and always will, so let your their needs drive your innovation.