Let’s face it. If you provide a poor customer experience, your customers will leave you. But “good” is debateable, but “bad customer service” is less so. In other words, what is Amazon’s idea of good customer service and how does it differ with other customer experience strategies or other customer interactions? In either case, applying Lean in Customer Service is advisable. In all discussion on customer service companies, there’s one company that is heads and shoulders above most others.
There are obviously differing strategies and definitions and answers to the question “what is good customer service?” I think in general, the answers fall into three camps:
- Perfect service in order to prevent a customer service contact.
- If we did something wrong, then please contact us and we’ll make it right.
- Contact us for anything, we appreciate the interaction and wish to build a human connection with you.
Jeff Bezos explains the Amazon Customer Service strategy in a recent Wired interview 1. His answer supports what I’ve argued for a long time regarding customer service strategy and Jeff Bezos’ answer places Amazon Customer Service squarely in the “perfect service so the customer doesn’t have to contact us” camp.
Levy: Two years ago, you bought Zappos. Was that an attempt to absorb their so-called culture of happiness and customer service?
Bezos: No, no, no. We like their unique culture, but we don’t want that culture at Amazon. We like our culture, too. Our version of a perfect customer experience is one in which our customer doesn’t want to talk to us. Every time a customer contacts us, we see it as a defect. I’ve been saying for many, many years, people should talk to their friends, not their merchants. And so we use all of our customer service information to find the root cause of any customer contact. What went wrong? Why did that person have to call? Why aren’t they spending that time talking to their family instead of talking to us? How do we fix it? Zappos takes a completely different approach. You call them and ask them for a pizza, and they’ll get out the Yellow Pages for you.
Notice Jeff Bezos’ use of the terms “Root Cause” – yes, his worldview is very steeped in lean six sigma and it shows in his language and in the overall strategy of customer service at Amazon.
I wrote a post, showing the Amazon approach to Customer Contacts, but using the iPhone Customer Service as a case study.
But Jeff Bezos makes a point to say that the Zappos Customer Service model is fine too, but it’s just not the Amazon worldview.
- http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/11/ff_bezos/all/1 ↩