Amazon is a little crazy about its customers… and the customers seem to like it. The company has a history of taking its customer service policies to extreme lengths. So it should come as no surprise that Amazon recently surpassed Apple as America’s most trusted company.
But don’t get this confused with profitability. Even though Amazon has ousted Apple from the title, Apple still makes 46 times more profit than Amazon relative to its total company value (sourced by Yahoo Finance at date published). The difference is Amazon is waiting (or never intending to) cash in on its success. Amazon continually puts profits back into the company to focus on long-term growth; to date that means little to no profits to speak of, but an astounding chunk of the market and an insanely loyal customer base to brag about.
So how is Amazon’s self-investment helping them dominate the ecommerce market? Let’s take a look through a couple of examples of their obsessive customer service:
1) Building warehouses across the country
A couple of giant warehouses would’ve worked fine for Amazon. Housing everything under one roof would’ve saved building, renting, salary, and inventory costs. Instead they’ve built over 50 fulfillment locations spanning 19 states across the US with more planned for this year. The vast number of warehouses allows them to provide faster and cheaper delivery – huge perks for customers. More locations also means an extended holiday season and more locations for buyers to pick up purchases.
2) As personal as you can get without being creepy
Forget your average retargeting. Amazon is constantly perfecting a genuinely tailored shopping experience by suggesting products that are relevant and interesting to each customer. These include personalized emails, site zones, and even shipping your items closer to you before you order them. Yes, you read that right. Depending on the number of times and how long you view an item, Amazon may choose to ship that product to a warehouse in your area so if and when you order, it will get to you that much faster.
3) Out of toilet paper? they’ll fly some over to you.
Amazon made big news this year with the announcement of Prime Air, a service of unmanned aerial vehicles which will air drop packages within 30 minutes of ordering them. This futuristic service is either the coolest and most convenient method of delivery, or completely over the top on Amazon’s part. Probably both. Many have speculated that this announcement just before Black Friday was nothing more than a publicity stunt. While that might be true, Amazon created just the right blend of plausible and futuristic to captivate us. Without needing to spell it out, Amazon’s PR stunt simply said “we’re always looking to make the Amazon Prime experience better.”
4) Offering recurring orders
For certain items that are often ordered repeatedly (diapers, toiletries, foodstuff) Amazon offers easy subscriptions. This combined with One-Click ordering makes getting your essentials easier and more convenient.
5) Lax return policy
If that One-Click was a mistake, no worries! Amazon customers can rest easy knowing that changing their minds prior to shipping is just as easy as placing the order. And if it is shipped, the return policy is easy and flexible. The last time I ordered a product, I submitted the return form and was informed by Amazon that returning the product wasn’t necessary. Instead I was immediately refunded. Impulse buys suddenly sound responsible.
Their willingness to put the customer first in disputes is what has gone the furthest in developing customer loyalty. It’s why ecommerce searches more frequently are starting with Amazon, not Google.
6) Customer service is incredible and everywhere
If you don’t feel like going to Amazon’s customer service center, it will come to you! Digitally, I mean. The CS team can be found trouble-shooting on blogs, in chat rooms, and just about anywhere there’s a problem. Here’s one example of a representative who maintains a regular presence on a section of Reddit to help with video game early access codes. Amazon’s customer service isn’t just accessible – it has the power to solve problems.
7) The pressure falls on merchants, not sellers
Although you can find a wide variety of products on other sites, very few offer merchants the ability to sell their goods at a “new” level. Amazon’s algorithm to win the “buy box” uses total landed price (item plus shipping), fulfillment by Amazon, company rating, and shipping time to control the quality of the user experience. This also ensures merchants adhere to Amazon customer service policies. And although it is invisible to the customer, the site puts a lot of pressure on the merchant to provide the most competitive price and to maintain good ratings. If a company’s ratings drop too low, it will lose the privilege of selling on Amazon.
Amazon’s customer service offerings require time, staff, and most importantly, money. The company would not be able to research the technological requirements of drone delivery if it was not willing to put a significant amount of earnings back into the company. Amazon constantly invests in evolving its customer experience, which directly benefits customer retention efforts. Because Amazon has proven it is willing to bend over backwards to satisfy the customer and offer the best possible shopping experience, it is the first place people turn when they need to buy.
Investing in your company ensures future growth, but customer service is only one part. The ecommerce services at Ripen can help you improve website usability and aesthetics, draw customers with informed marketing, and impress them with captivating creative. Let’s grow your business.