“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon
The only way to survive today’s ever-changing market place is to innovate according to customer wants and needs.
And, arguably, no other company has been as successful at building its brand around the customer than Amazon.
Why Amazon is the “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”?
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been at the helm of change since his early days as a pioneer in online book sales. According to Bezos, the key to the company’s success has been listening to and inventing for customers.
Since 1995, Amazon has expanded at a breakneck speed, thanks to Bezos unconventional leadership style.
What started out as a relatively simple online service – book sales – has developed into an all-encompassing e-retail empire, selling a variety of high and low-end products and providing a host of services.
For example, in recent years, the company has launched Amazon Prime, initially a membership-only delivery service which has since morphed into a service enabling users to download music, stream movies, access unlimited cloud storage, order food delivery to home or office, and – coming soon – receive deliveries via aerial drones.
And all of this in addition to the company’s other services which include Amazon Art (in partnership with selected galleries), Amazon Video (providing on-demand services), and Amazon Destinations (a travel service).
Bezo’s bold leadership and understanding of consumer buying habits has led to his creation of a new and breakthrough business model, all the while maintaining his company’s position as a customer satisfaction leader.
Amazon is a multibillion dollar brand which has had many years to create, test, and perfect its customer service model.
And although its capabilities may be out of reach for the average business, Amazon’s customer-centric model provides inspiration which any business could benefit from.
Customer Service Lessons from Amazon
In 2013, Bezos told Charlie Rose that the customer comes before business innovation: “I would define Amazon by our big ideas, which are customer centricity, putting the customer at the center of everything we do.”
Indeed, the company has made an art of finding new and better ways to improve customer experience, some of which include:
- Offering fast, hassle-free ordering and delivery.
- Using data to personalize, helping shoppers in real time with product selections based on browsing and buying history.
- Going out of its way to help customers get the best deal.
Bezos declared early on that Amazon would not simply sell stuff but “help customers make purchase decisions.”
This attitude led to the key differentiator of allowing customers to post book reviews and, eventually, reviews of the entire range of products offered on the web site.
Feedback is placed directly on the product’s page and users are provided with multiples ways to parse the information to their liking.
While customer reviews are seen everywhere today – Yelp, Uber, TripAdvisor – Amazon was the first to display such reviews, creating a more transparent e-retail space with two key benefits for the consumer:
- Prior to customer reviews, internet shoppers were, essentially, shopping in the dark but, thanks to Amazon, the customer has readily available knowledge with which to make purchase decisions.
- Manufacturers are now held even more accountable for the quality of their products, knowing that customers are sharing everything with one another.
Amazon focuses on one simple measure of customer service quality: helpfulness.
It regularly interacts with customers through non-intrusive and easy-to-use satisfaction surveys. The surveys are an effective tool for building sales and turning customers into loyal enthusiasts.
Analytics are at the heart of the company’s success with surveys acting as a critical tool for understanding the customer experience.
For example, after interacting with a customer service representative, customers are asked to rate the quality of service with one simple question: “Was this answer helpful?”
The question does two important jobs:
- It provides a single, one-dimensional metric.
- The simplicity of the question ensures a high response rate, providing Amazon with feedback it can use to make necessary adjustments.
Customer service at Amazon isn’t designed to simply field complains and queries but is an opportunity to improve the company’s relationship to its customers.