Employee Culture: Why Amazon is on Top and Bank of America Isn’t


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Each year, we do a Global Leader Survey of top executives in Customer Experience Management. Last year’s survey revealed that Amazon claimed the top spot and Bank of America…well, didn’t. While I believe there are several factors at work here that make the difference between the two organizations, employee engagement is a big part it. That is to say, Amazon has it—and Bank of America doesn’t.

The Top 10 Companies

As you can see, Amazon sits at the top. According to the global leaders, that’s because:

  • They deliver excellence customer service.

  • They communicate well.

  • They are easy to use.

  • They have high-quality touch points.

  • They have stated publicly they want to be the “Earth’s most customer centric company.

How employee engagement affects their rank:

A recent article on BusinessInsider.com points out that Amazon’s cloud computing business earned $3.8 billion in revenue last year. The idea for this business model, however, was not from Jeff Bezos or any other senior staff member at Amazon. The idea came from an employee that had been with the company for a year.

In 2003, Benjamin Black, website engineering manager and his boss, Chris Pinkham, vice president of IT infrastructure, presented a paper outlining the project. Bezos recognized that the idea was good and put them to work on it—even though it came from a lower-level employee that hadn’t worked there long.

Amazon has a culture that fosters employee engagement that makes any level of employee feel that their ideas matter and will be heard. What Bezos showed here was that a good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from, and you have to listen to people’s ideas to hear the good ones. Naturally, my assumption is that he also has to listen to many bad ideas also to get to these good ideas. Regardless, he does it and a good idea he listened to earned the company $3.8 Billion last year.

The Bottom 10 Companies

Technically, Bank of America isn’t listed here by name but they do fall under the label of “Any Bank.” The global leaders ranked banks and the other companies listed here because:

•    They have poor quality customer service

•    They have suffered from bad press recently

•    They have poor customer care experiences

•    They are poor at communication and problem solving

How employee engagement affects their rank:

The companies on the bottom of the list have several things in common. One of the ones I didn’t list was that they don’t have a good awareness of what their current customer experience is and worse yet, many of them don’t care. I would argue that this is true of Bank of America.

Zhecho Dobrev, a one of Beyond Philosophy’s Senior Consultants, recently told a story on our blog about his experience with Bank of America. Blindsided by a past due notice and notification that his delinquency would be passed along to the credit agencies, he called to complain that they email they sent him was misleading and clearly said he owed $0.00. When he brought this to the attention of employees there, he got no response or sympathy, was told that the email picture he referred to was “just a graphic” and that he needed to go check the balance himself.

As Zhecho later says:

“The fact that even after my official complaint and talking to two agents and a manager none of them said, ‘Thank you for pointing this to us. I’ll pass this as a suggestion / idea to the management,’ is a failure of the company’s innovation process, which either doesn’t:

  • Provide a clear channel for people to submit ideas

  • Or doesn’t provide an incentive for people to do that

  • Or if Bank of America has these in place then for sure it hasn’t trained its managers and staff on Empathy.”

I am not a fan of banks. I wrote a post about the Royal Bank of Scotland earlier this year about how the CEO was saying the right things but that the actions are what matters. In my experience, banks don’t ever put the customer first.

We talk a lot about the emotional side of the experience and how important it is to evoke the right ones for your customers. It is important that your employee experience evokes the right emotions also. When you do this well, your company makes billions of dollars in additional revenue and sits at the top of the customer experience list. When you don’t, you have to nickel and dime your way to profits with annoying fees and cut important things like employee training to eek out a profit for your stockholders. It’s not hard to imagine which company would be more fun to go to every day.

What does your company do to encourage employee engagement? I’d love to hear your examples in the comments below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. When Bank of America purchased MBNA several years ago (at the time MBNA was the U.S. #2 credit card issuer behind Citibank), some analysts felt that the MBNA culture would have a positive impact on how BofA engaged with employees and customers. MBNA’s mantra for employees, “Think of Yourself As the Customer”, extremely customer-centric for a financial institution, has instead disappeared within BofA’s tactical, passive, reactive customer culture.


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