What an Amazon mistake and a burning car taught me about Customer Experience Planning


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Jeep Grand Cherokee picture courtesy by https://www.edmunds.com/jeep/grand-cherokee/2018/suv/ and Amazon picture courtesy by https://www.pcmag.com/feature/335949/17-things-to-know-about-amazon-prime

The source and original article was posted here at Eglobalis.

Years ago, I was living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. These days (in Germany) I prefer biking or using Uber/ride share, but back then — because of how the U.S. is, and especially that Philadelphia area — I needed a car. I decided on a Jeep Grand Cherokee for two reasons: (1) was that I liked the car from having seen it in Europe, Israel and the U.S. and (2) was that Lee Iacocca was a great business leader — and the guy who designed the first Mustang for Ford before going to Chrysler.

Source Google Map author personal picture

I had the Grand Cherokee, my dream car, for two weeks — yes, two weeks — when my boss calls me. I was living in a condo at Cherry Hill, NJ at the time, and I was leaving toward the office.
I just left the condo and turned right, when he called me — as you can see in the picture above. Naturally, I parked the car and was talking to my boss about a large client in Greece, and then … the hood starts smoking.
I couldn’t believe it.
This car was two weeks old!
Long story made shorter: I returned the car, yes. I did eventually get money back on it, but it took forever. You know the expression “No questions asked?” This was many questions asked. In fact, when I first went back to return the car, they kept trying to get me to get a new Cherokee instead of simply and seamlessly returning the money. They kept pushing to get me a new one.
It was a terrible quality experience, and I’ve never gone back to the brand.
By contrast: In December 2016, I ordered a copy of The Fourth Transformation , a great book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel about AI, AR and VR and immersive virtual experiences. I ordered the book from Amazon. It seemed like no big deal. I’ve ordered hundreds of books from Amazon.
On this particular order of this particular book, it took close to 72 days — yes, days — to arrive. That was a horrible customer experience and a failure of what Amazon stands for. I was pretty frustrated, and even the authors did not understood why it took so long.
But the brand here was Amazon. I’ve ordered hundreds of things from Amazon over the years that have arrived on-time or even prior to the deliver time and in perfect, quality condition.
So, I assume I had a threshold where I could “forgive” Amazon for my book being late, but a smaller shipping company that I hadn’t heard of? Maybe I wouldn’t forgive so quickly.

Source author personalized Amazon Experience information

In my long history with Amazon, they typically deliver a superior quality with amazing hyper-personalized design and customer experience. When I think of the company, the first thing that comes to mind is the quality of the experience and their consistency.
Amazon did make it right, though. They returned me 10 dollars of the book price and paid my shipping costs the second time around, so my cost ended up being close to zero. Think about that: Amazon is a huge company — one of the biggest in the world by market capitalization — and they still behave like that towards customers. We all know companies (of all sizes) who don’t behave that way. You may say now “Well, it’s a marketing trick they do,” and maybe that’s true — but it’s effective when you reimburse because of mistakes. .

So what is the difference between these two stories?
I stayed with one brand, and left the other.
It was all because of how they dealt with me as a customer, and how they can deal with me is set up long before the crisis.
You need to think about how to structure your organization for the toughest moments.
I call this “The 22 Commandments” of dealing with mistakes and crises in UX, CX, design, and more.
For example:

1. You shall hire and develop quality in all levels of your organization starting with the C-suite and extending it everywhere.
2. You shall consistently develop talent and educate, coach and train them on how to manage quality as part of your culture — and manage customer both good and difficult interactions.
3. You shall hire and partner with problem-solving, curious, customer-centric people who want to get things done.
4. You shall create real value for customers and ensure they are successful. This is your basic key to retention and loyalty.
5. “You shall invest in people, and customer experience. Consider the 4Ps: people, preparation, prevention, and proactivity.”
6. Remember, your company exists to serve customers. Profits and revenues come from doing that very well.
7. Use analytics, feedbacks, reviews, communities, focus groups, and more to make sure you are not assuming what a customer wants. You are actually delivering what they want.
8. Make sure your interactions (digital and in-person) are well-prepared, well-designed, quick (respect their time), efficient, and provide the right information.
9. You shall not treat them badly ever. They might not be right, but they deserve your respect as a customer and as humans. (I got that one from Shep Hyken.)
10. Admit you (and/or your company) were wrong, apologize, and act to solve the issues fast — courtesy of Mike Wittenstein at Story Miners.
11. You shall not blame others for your mistakes and instead take public ownership now.
12. You shall not work in defensive or reactive mode. Solve the issues you created and own the responsibility.

Own the responsibility. If this interests you, you can learn more about the approach and how the commandments were developed and get implemented here The source and original article was posted here at Eglobalis..
Do you have core approaches to dealing with CX crises and preventing it, either before they happen or at the moment? I’d be interested to know.

Ricardo Saltz Gulko
Ricardo Saltz Gulko is the founder of Eglobalis and the European Customer Experience Organization. He is a global strategist specializing in B2B enterprises, with a focus on Customer Experience, Professional Services, Design and Innovation, as well as data-driven services. Ricardo empowers major global enterprises to generate new revenue and enhance market competitiveness through the delivery of exceptional global CX, and he employs design to drive adoption and growth. The end results of his work include high growth, increased retention, loyalty, innovation ignition, adoption and growth.


  1. I love when a story teaches a valuable lesson. Great example of how two brands handle mistakes or problems differently. While both promise a hassle free “No Questions Asked” return policy. It’s one thing to promise it, and another to deliver. Thanks for your insights, Ricardo!

  2. Thanks so much for your commentary Shep. Is special to know that you liked, this story which happens to me some years ago, and was extremely frustrating at the time, but at least I learned something valuable for customers and myself, thanks for coming here, have a great weekend kr R.


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