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Customer Service, Amazon-Style

August 30, 2016

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.

I did some research, and identified 10 key elements of Amazon’s customer service. I used them to create this infographic:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Customer Service Amazon Style infographic CEO Jeff Bezos holding little chair symbolizing The Customer as most important person in room

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHere’s a larger detail image:blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
detail image Customer Service Amazon Style infographic CEO Jeff Bezos holding little chair symbolizing The Customer as most important person in room

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highA few thoughts on each element. Most of them overlap:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

  1. Make it easy: if a customer has to struggle to place an online order, you’ve lost that person.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.
  8. Be accountable: Amazon tracks every customer exchange to make sure issues
    are addressed. Department heads get a WOCAS report: “What Our Customers Are Saying.”
  9. Apologize for mistakes: nothing diffuses a situation like a heartfelt apology– like this one that Bezos himself posted back in 2009.
  10. Have a plan: Bad reviews and complaints will happen— be ready for them. Never fail to respond, and always thank customers for their feedback.BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Oh– one more thing: always carry a little chair with you so you can offer people a seat.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
photo compare to caricature Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holding little chair symbolizing The Customer as most important person in room

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highYou might also enjoy these infographics on content marketing and how to choose the right visual artist for your brand.

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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?

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2016 1:34 PM

    And this was tagged as Humor because…?


    • August 30, 2016 2:04 PM

      Um… because caricatures are funny, and you can’t help but smile when you see someone holding a tiny chair in their hand? 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  2. soul . to . earth permalink
    August 30, 2016 10:21 PM

    Cute sketch, as always! Truly impressive behind-the-scenes stuff even if Mr. Bezos suffers from an Amazonian level of empty chair syndrome? 😀

    I totally agree about Amazon’s customer service – it’s topnotch at all levels.

    I just wish their site’s navigation didn’t slow down my brain! So many options, sort fields don’t work, poor/ incomplete item info., lack of photos, no manufacturer videos to help, no price protection plus prices aren’t always competitive…..all-too-common for most Canadian counterparts of US companies. 😦 So, except for books, e-books, product reviews and Marketplace aka weird but useful stuff only made in Chai-nah!, Amazon Canada isn’t yet a “go-to” site. Given their recent, heavy push towards Prime memberships, they’re moving in a direction I couldn’t really care to follow.

    Hope you’re having a great summer – tarra! 🙂


    • September 1, 2016 3:52 PM

      My dear Radhika! Thank you for that Amazonian comment! I shall take a digital cab to the Amazon website, where, after some uncertain navigation, I shall– eventually– order you a pair of official Wonder Woman Amazonian bracelets to support your wrists– they must be tired after all that typing!

      Must agree with you about the Amazon site– it’s intimidating, and most of that stems from all the options and suggestions: Mens Short Kurta Shirt Embroidered Indian Dress? Ah! You might also like this Polka-Dot Pagri, sure to command the honor and respect a man like yourself so richly deserves… (I have to admit: a very persuasive argument)

      Yes, having a pleasant summer, tho I spend way too much time down at the Ganges Club, competing in mustache contests. I find drinking Indian Filter Coffee just before a contest gives me a certain drippy styling advantage… : )

      Hope you’re having a great summer, and, as always, lovely to see you.

      P.S. Just curious: do you pronounce tarra as ‘churar‘??

      Liked by 1 person

  3. soul . to . earth permalink
    September 2, 2016 10:59 AM

    Had a oneduh woman moment when I found that “Churar” is also a village in West Bengal, India…..thanks to your P.S., I learned something new! 🙂 Tarra is tata (an Indian way of saying goodbye) with a Brit accent…..often heard at The Ganges Club. 😉


    • September 3, 2016 12:04 PM

      West Bengal– I remember it well. Saw a tiger there once. He was eating Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes… 🐯🍺

      Tarra means goodbye… ah! Yes, you do hear it a lot at the Ganges Club, and it finally makes sense. I always thought “Tarra!” meant “Check, please!” and I wondered why people promptly left after they said it. It ties in very nicely with another tradition at the Ganges Club: leaving without paying… 😳

      Liked by 1 person

  4. September 3, 2016 8:00 PM

    I’m trying to remember customer stories…. anyway..

    I have a non -controversial blog but I have had some inkling for 1-2 blog visitors of male sniping in a different language over a post on feminism and cycling.


    • September 8, 2016 8:45 AM

      Male chauvinist blog visitors leaving snippy comments in a foreign tongue? Sounds pretty cowardly to me! Just ignore ’em, Jean. Alas, it’s a sad fact of life that not all men are as secure, gracious, and enlightened as myself… : )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 10, 2016 1:00 PM

    I love the sentiment – an empty chair representing the customer. So that’s why Amazon’s customer service is so good! I’ve always been impressed by it 🙂

    Also, I love that tiny chair. I want a tiny chair to put on my desk now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 12, 2016 12:29 PM

      If Amazon were really on the ball, that little chair Mr. Bezos is holding would have a sign on it: Reserved For Lily!! 😊

      Hi, Lily! Many thanks for your kind comment, always so nice to see you. Yes, that Empty Chair symbolism is very impressive. It sets the customer service bar very high, but it’s hard to imagine a premise, an idea, that could cast a company in a better light. A combination of ideals, lofty goals, and brilliant marketing. And it certainly shows the power of a simple image.

      OK, a simple, very cute image, available in 12 delicious flavors– I mean, colors!! 🎨

      I’m going down to my workshop and get started on that little chair for you right away. Of course, when I think back on some of my “shop class” projects in school, I should probably caution you that “actual results may vary.” A lot… 😕

      Hope the autumn sunshine is singling you out for special benevolence! ☀️😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. RKLikesReeses permalink
    September 23, 2016 11:39 AM

    Late to the party but loving this! Your idea and the infographic are TERRIFIC!!! Mr. Bezos should give you a chair reserved exclusively for “Mark Armstrong, Brilliant Illustrator!” 🙂


    • September 27, 2016 6:19 PM

      Mr. B. did offer me a chair, but fortunately I saw the cord and unplugged it just in time. After suffering numerous burned-out trouser seats over the years, I’ve learned to look for these things… : )

      My dear RK!! Thank you so veddy mucho for your off-the-scale kind comment, and do excuse this tardy reply. Yes, I had a lot of fun with that infographic. I was a bust at shop class in school. I couldn’t make a chair to save my life, but at least I can draw one, and copy and paste it as needed!!

      Hope you’re well, and thanks again for your wunnaful, wunnaful support!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Harry Ealedona permalink
    August 2, 2018 11:43 PM

    It would be great to see how Amazon would do in our small country! inspired to take on the amazon values of customer service into my everyday job! #PNG


    • August 9, 2018 5:55 PM

      Hi, Harry! Many thanks for your kind comment, and please forgive me for being so late to respond. I’m very glad you found the post inspiring. Wishing you the best, cheers to Papua New Guinea from New Hampshire, USA! 😊



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