Tuesday, September 21, 2010

AMAZON’S Backlog in Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company

Last week I did read an article in TechCrunch that Amazon now accepts American Express membership rewards points for purchases on Amazon.com. Well this is good news, I thought, as I have quite some points to use. So, I logged into the specific page on Amazon to link both accounts. I just had to fill in a few details regarding my American Express account and then hit the last button ‘Link rewards account’. But........ nothing happened, I expected a confirmation page which tells me that everything is linked now, but no reaction at all. I could only see that my cursor was back at the place where I first provided my details. So, I tried again and again, but every time no result. Pff, this was frustrating. While I was so happy with the possibility of buying books from my points.

What to do next? I had to get in touch with customer service. This is where we get in an area where there is a huge opportunity for improvement.
It is very difficult to find a way to email/contact customer service. You need to spit tthrough a lot of FAQ pages and then somewhere at the end there is a link.
It is clear that Amazon prefers self-service and doesn’t really want you to contact their customer services. I now understand why.

First I used their mail facility and explained my problem. This was there reaction.
“I'm sorry you had problems using our website! I wasn't able to reproduce the problem you had, so I'd suggest you give us a call.  One of our colleague will assist you online in linking your card.”
In other words, dear Mr Customer you are wrong there is no problem!! This statement rules against the most crucial principle of services, namely the customer is always right. This made me angry, so I decided to make use of their call facility. They promoted  that I just had to provide my number and that I then would be called back. However, this functionality doesn’t work when you are living in the Netherlands. So, if  you really want to be a global company, than please include all countries where you are selling to.

What to do next? After some searching I did find a phone number, which I had to call at my own expense. Okay, I did it. The person who answered the call had never heard about the possibility of linking these accounts. So, I basically took him by the hand and explained the issue. The only answer he had (after consulting with his supervisor) was to call American Express instead. This is another major mistake in providing services; never pass the responsibility to someone else. So, I ended the thirty-minute international phone call and there I was. Still no solution and a lot of time and money wasted.
I decided to answer the first email and this is their response.
“We didn't receive the e-mail message below because it was directed to an e-mail address that can't accept incoming messages”
This again proves that they, Amazon, see services as a cost center, as an area in which they want a minimal amount of conversations, even better no conversations at all. They don’t want direct contact with me, the customer. On the contrarie. I, as a customer, want personalized and customized support. So, there is quite a gap here. But if you have this as a slogan in your signature “We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company” there is still hope…….

So, I did send a new email, again explaining my experiences. And this was the response.
“I'm sorry to hear you had trouble registering your rewards program to Shop with Points. Be sure to follow the instructions provided in the error message.”
Further in the mail, they explained the procedure. And this is it, nobody answered my question and nobody cared. Obviously it is my problem and not theirs! I feel that I am not wanted. I am just a nuisance and have to solve my own problems. Please don’t bother us, we just want to sell you stuff and provide as little personal service as possible.

As a last resort, I did check whether Amazon has a Twitter account, and they have. So I posted a message that I just had a terrible service experience. I hoped to get a reaction, but that was in vain. Also on all the emails there was this paragraph.
“Did I solve your problem?
If yes, please click here:
If no, please click here:
Every time I replied with no and gave the lowest possible ratings. Now, a week later, I have received no reaction at all.

What does this experience prove?
That services should not be only a cost center, that services require a specific approach and design, that service is a culture and an attitude and that a positive customer experience is crucial for retention.
Also, dear Mr Amazon you have to understand  that bad news travels fast. I am writing this blogpost as basically a cry for help. Maybe we can even help each other…..

I would also like to suggest that you  contact your partners from Zappos, as they really understand what it means to provide WOW-services!


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