17 Minutes with Olga from Amazon


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Over the past 3 years I’ve spent well over $4K at Amazon – Yikes! That’s a scary thought actually. I really like the hassle free shopping, quick checkouts, product reviews, and the wide selection of merchandise all under one roof. I do about 75% of my shopping for items like books, electronics devices, vitamins/supplements, office supplies, and birthday gifts from Amazon. So no big surprise that I’m an Amazon Prime member; for $79/year we get free 2-day shipping or $3.99/per item for one day shipping. By most estimates, I would likely be considered a “loyal customer”. Generally, things run pretty smoothly with my orders, so I never have to talk to customer service. However, a recent problem with an order could have resulted in a very disappointing experience; but after a 17 minute phone call with Olga, the Amazon Contact Center Agent, I am more loyal than ever to Amazon.


The problem stemmed from several items we purchased for my wife’s cousin, Giselle, who was visiting us.  She is in the Argentinean Air Force and doing relief work in Haiti, and she had a week off to hang in Miami.  So, we logged on to Amazon in order some parting gifts to give her before leaving.  In total there were about 8 items ordered, and due to the timing of her departure, we chose the one day shipping option. When the delivery date came, only 6 of the 8 items had arrived. Baffled and a bit disgruntled, I checked Amazon’s web self service portal which showed the delayed items just leaving Tennessee. I had a very strong feeling that we wouldn’t receive them before Giselle was going to leave. Just to be sure, I contacted Amazon customer service. After a 10 minute search on Amazon’s site for the customer service contact info (my only customer complaint), I chose the “Call Me” option and within 4 seconds, Olga (Amazon Customer Service Rep) was dialing my number. Here’s how it went down, minute by minute:

  • Minutes 0-3: I explained the situation. Their integration between self service and agent desktop is fantastic. As I was looking on the web self service portal, she was walking through my order, nearly identical to what I was viewing on my PC. Olga confirmed my missing items and asked if I would mind being placed on hold while she called FedEx to troubleshoot the holdup. Are you kidding me? Wow, YES, you can call them on my behalf. 
  • Minutes 3-7: On hold while Olga talks with FedEx Customer Service. 
  • Minutes 7-9: Olga came back with the unfortunate news that our shipment was in fact delayed (due to weather of course). She explained our options and she said they would happily refund the $3.99 shipping cost/per item if we still wanted to accept them a day later. Unfortunately, this didn’t help us since Giselle was leaving at 9am the following day. Olga then asked if we would like her to cancel the order before it arrives. We were amazed that she was able to cancel an order mid-stream like this at no cost to us; very impressive.
  • Minutes 9-13: On hold while Olga talks with FedEx Customer Service again.
  • Minutes 13-14: Olga returns and says “there may be a possibility that we can get you the package in time. Let me call the local FedEx office to confirm. I will be right back after I investigate further.”
  • Minutes 14-16On hold while Olga talks with FedEx Customer Service again.
  • Minutes 16-17: Olga comes back and confirms that the package will NOT be in our hands by 9am. Again, she asks again if we would like to cancel the order. We accept her offer; she recaps the call, provides us with next steps, and indicates when we will receive our refund.

My Takeaway: Customer Experience (Measures) Trump Traditional Metrics

17 minutes is a very long time for a simple order inquiry.  This call would have most likely triggered a number of red flags for contact centers using traditional KPIs and metrics – high call handle time, # of canceled orders, loss of revenue, and long hold times.  In this case, these metrics do not account for the customer experience result from my interaction (see treating the contact center as a “cost center” for more material on this subject). As the customer, I was blown away by the experience (though I wish the customer service number was easier to find). At no point in the process did I feel like Olga was in a hurry to get to her next call. She was extremely empathic and wanted badly to help resolve my issue. During the call, she listened to my concerns, set the appropriate expectations, and made calls on my behalf. Olga leveraged the technology integration between the agent desktop and web channels to provide a solid customer experience – and she knocked it out of the park.


Looking back on my experience, it would be interesting to understand what customer measures Amazon tracks for these types of interactions. Is it Customer Lifetime Value? Hours spent with customers? Customer value/profit? Repeat customer purchases?


What do you think?

Posted with Author’s permission. Original post can be seen on the RiverStar Customer Experience Blog


  1. I think you’re lucky that you weren’t calling Telstra http://www.telstra.com

    The other day they threatened to cut my main landline (and Internet) due a bill which I have been trying to tell them since July is a duplicate account recreated by them after they consolidated that landline into another business account – and I’m now having to pay twice. More than 2 1/2 hours, 7 local agents, 3 overdue account agents in the Philippines, no resolution because no single person in that entire chain can see all all of my accounts at the one time !!! I had a simple proposition – you are charging me line rental for the same line in 2 accounts, I want it fixed. And by the way my online bill for the account about to be suspended shows I am $12.72 in CREDIT!

    Absolutely no resolution and noone even able to give me a contact who can resolve it or call me back! Unbelievable. I paid the bill as I don’t want my business interrupted for the sake of $150!!!!!

    I wish I had only spent your 17 minutes, and had my problem resolved 🙂

    Actually, after I paid the bill I decided to experiment with their Twitter support @telstra and I’m getting more sense out of them after a few tweets than all those hours on the phone with so many other agents.

    Walter Adamson @g2m
    Certified Social Media Consultant
    Melbourne, Australia
    My social spaces and places: http://xeesm.com/walter


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