Customer experience, innovation, artificial intelligence, culture….a look inside Amazon – Interview with Claire Whitaker

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Today’s interview is with Claire Whitaker, a product and artificial intelligence (AI) consultant, who over the last nine years has worked in lean innovation, customer experience (CX), product management and technology including AI teams at top companies across industries, including Amazon. Claire joins me today to share some insights from her experience and, particularly, from her time at Amazon.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – The nature of service and how we’ve grown up with a service economy which is now finding it very hard to actually serve customers – Interview with Joel Bailey of EY Seren – and is number 340 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Claire:

  • Claire joined Amazon 5 years ago (she recently left and has now ventured out on her own) starting in an entry level position doing everything from branding for clients, marketing, sales and business strategy through to operational things and logistics.
  • She moved into product management and started to get much deeper into how we can use technology to improve the customer experience.
  • Stop worrying about metrics and start thinking about customers.
  • Start with what do you want your customer to feel or what’s the action you want them to take.
  • Starting point: This is the experience I want to offer. This is the experience that we’re currently offering. How do how do we bridge that gap?
  • Amazon’s empty chair in every meeting legend. This does happen. But, sometimes, small meeting rooms don’t allow for an empty chair if there are a lot of people in the meeting. But, it’s always at the forefront of your mind when you’re developing new products. That’s the Amazon culture.
  • The best products and the best teams that do this are the ones that really embrace this idea.
  • This is reinforced via the review process which is very thorough. Key questions: What does this mean for the customer? What do we want the customer to feel about this? How do we ensure that the customer experience is maintained? How do we know that we’re right about what the customer wants?
  • Metrics are your forcing function for keeping the the customer at the centre of what you do and how you do it.
  • The metrics, however, have to reflect the customer experience you want to deliver.
  • Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, once you understand the problems your customers are facing and the challenges that they have with your products, then you can figure out what data you need to measure and monitor this? And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be numbers. It could be just feedback.
  • The same reasoning applies to technology choice and specifically the use and application of AI in business – figure out what it is you want to do and then pick the right tool for the right job.
  • However, when using technology like AI you have to consider how ethics plays into all of your decision making.
  • You really need to understand the technology and understand how it works, what its limitations are so when you’re looking at building your solution, you know some of the pitfalls before you start, so you can mitigate them.
  • You need to be thinking about your customer, the problem that you’re trying to solve and the outcomes that you want as well as the outcomes that you don’t want. You need to understand how technology will impact all of the different people that are going to be impacted by your system and the biases that may be present in the data that you are using and the way that your algorithm that you have constructed.
  • Organisations should consider establishing an ethical set of standards or a code of conduct.
  • Machine Intelligence Garage Ethics Committee has created an Ethical Framework consisting of seven concepts, along with corresponding questions intended to inform how they may be applied in practice.
  • relentless.com redirects to amazon.com – and that speaks to Amazon’s culture of relentless innovation, both in terms of continuous improvement and placing big bets.
  • Claire’s best advice: Start with your customer. Start with the who? Whose problems are you trying to solve? What does this person feel? What do they need from you? Why are they coming to you? And, how do you best serve them? Try and get into their point of view because from there everything else will fall into place.
  • Claire’s Punk CX word: Individual.
  • Claire’s Punk CX brand: Monzo.

About Claire

Claire WhitakerClaire is a product and AI consultant. Over the last nine years, she has worked in innovation and CX teams at top companies across industries, including Amazon. She has been involved in a variety of projects looking at how to use advanced technologies like AI and AR to improve customer experience. Now as a certified SME consultant, she helps tech companies move from feeling overwhelmed in your business unable to scale, to have a product roadmap the team is excited about delivering.

You can found out more about Claire at Artificially Intelligent Consulting, say Hi to her on Twitter @ElizabetClaire and do connect with her on LinkedIn here.

 

Image by 272447 from Pixabay

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