Superior customer service is rare. In fact, one survey found that while 80% of companies described themselves as providing “superior” service, customers projected the number at a dismal 8%.
Amazon’s brand has become synonymous with an effortless and positive customer experience. Obsession over the details of the customer experience at each step of Amazon’s journey, from selling books online in 1994 to selling (nearly) everything today, has cultivated ironclad customer loyalty. While many companies view customers as merely the lifetime value of their potential revenue, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, sees Amazon’s customers as their drive for innovation. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts,” Bezos claims. “It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
What can we learn from the Everything Store? Here are four strategic insights from Amazon’s practices that will help any company become more customer-centric:
1. Make it Your Mission: Amazon’s mission statement declares its desire to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” and its strives unwaveringly to realize its goal. Since 1994, Amazon has innovated with improving the customer experience as its motivation for growth. Tying customer experience to your company’s mission solidifies priorities. Amazon realizes that acting in the best interest of its customers is in its best long term interests and acts accordingly.
2. Establish a Direct Feedback Loop: Analytics are at the core of Amazon’s success with WOCAS reports. Customer complaints don’t vanish once a ticket is closed. Customer service data is analyzed and turned into WOCAS reports, which stand for “what our customers are saying.” WOCAS reports detail customer service insights and deliver them straight to department leaders, allowing decisions regarding product and operations to be made with customers’ feedback in mind. How can you deliver if you don’t have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening?
3. All Hands On Deck: Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; every employee should be equally obsessed and feel responsibility for the outcome of each customer’s experience. At Amazon, thousands of managers, including Jeff Bezos, attend two days of call-center training each year. Being on the frontline and resolving customer tickets not only highlights the importance of the need for clear communication of insights between customer service representatives and other departments but also serves to show how each employee’s work ultimately impacts the quality of customer experience.
4. Show You’re Listening: Customer service is futile without accountability. If a customer contacts your business and you do nothing about it, customers will likely feel frustrated and angered that they wasted their time. A business needs to take some type of action to show customers that you’re actually hearing what they have to say. Amazon, for instance, measures and tracks every customer interaction in order to prevent any query from being unaddressed, and it closes every customer interaction with a simple question: “Was this answer helpful?” Nothing should slip through the cracks.
When a business scales, it can be difficult to maintain the same level of intimate, one-on-one customer service that it provided as a startup — but that doesn’t make it any less important to do.
As a business grows, it can be difficult to attend to customers’ needs with the same level of personalized attention and detail, but nevertheless, just as important. Today, a single disgruntled customer can leave a scathing public review and deter thousands from using a service or product. As Bezos notes, “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.”