The River of Customer Service Stories Go Viral
When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com he knew that need needed three things in order to become the largest online super store on the planet. He needed the largest, most diverse inventory imaginable. He knew he needed to have the lowest prices possible. And most importantly, he wanted to make his customers happy. The thousands of items and low prices, properly marketed, would surly bring the traffic he wanted but in order to truly be successful he needed customer loyalty, customers that came back again and again. The only way to build customer loyalty like that is through customer service. Consumer will buy from companies that treat them fairly and welcome their business with flexible policies and friendly staff.
When you do 100% of your transactions online and your customers only interact with your staff when something goes wrong, then your customer service needs to be flawless with no exceptions.
Amazon has an amazingly forgiving return policy and they have been known to be very reasonable with their clients when packages were lost or damaged in the mail. There is an amazing story involving a parent desperate to buy his son a PS3 for Christmas and when the item was delivered successfully but never received by the buyer, Amazon replaced the item free of charge with no shipping fees. They didn’t have to replace the item, UPS tracking confirmed it was delivered; the item was simply lost or possibly stolen from the doorstep. But they did it anyway because it was Christmas and it was the right thing to do for their customer.
Many companies have strict return policies that punish clients for things that are outside their control under the misguided attempt to save money. Amazon figured out early on that happy customers more than made up for any loss in revenue from returns. Recently a viral online review of Amazon’s wonderful customer service on the online news aggregate website Reddit proved the point perfectly. The post received half a million views and over a thousand comments. Let’s face it; there is no marketing available for sale more powerful than that! Positive word of mouth social networking mentions are the new holy grail of branding.
Amazon customer service reps are trained for weeks before they ever get on the phones and they are empowers to make decisions about returns and exchanges. Because Amazon wants their staff to always remain focused on how important customer service is, all staff must spend two weeks per year helping out taking customer service phone calls. No one is exempt, not even Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. By focusing on the customer, Amazon can grow without losing sight of their original mission.