Customer Service, Amazon-Style
Amazon is the largest internet-based retailer in the world. Hard to believe it began life as an online bookstore. Nowadays, it sells just about everything.
One of the keys to Amazon’s success: its obsession with customer service. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is famous for having an empty chair at company meetings. It represents The Customer: the most important person in the room.
- Make it easy: if a customer has to struggle to place an online order, you’ve lost that person.
- Understand the customer: Amazon managers, including Bezos himself, attend 2 days of call center training every year. It’s a dramatic reminder that company success is tied to understanding customers and their needs.
- Respect the customer’s authority: today’s customers vent their frustrations on social media. Bezos, quote: “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”
- Serve the customer: ask how you can make that person more successful. Why obsess with good service? Auto maker Henry Ford put it this way, quote: “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money… It is the customer who pays the wages.”
- Involve every employee– not just those on the front lines of customer service. Everyone in the company needs to be committed to the needs of the customer.
- Align your goals with the customer’s: Bezos on customer focus: “We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon… and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
- Be accessible: if customers can’t contact you when they have a problem, you’re sending them a clear message: don’t bother us, we don’t care.
- Be accountable: Amazon tracks every customer exchange to make sure issues
are addressed. Department heads get a WOCAS report: “What Our Customers Are Saying.”
- Apologize for mistakes: nothing diffuses a situation like a heartfelt apology– like this one that Bezos himself posted back in 2009.
- Have a plan: Bad reviews and complaints will happen— be ready for them. Never fail to respond, and always thank customers for their feedback.
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Do you worry about customers posting negative comments online? Are you prepared to respond?
Ever had to apologize to a customer for a serious lapse? How did they react?
I think customer service becomes part of your brand: good service => referrals => new customers. Would you agree?
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