Amazon.com has claimed a relentless pursuit of customer-centric processes since its inception. Sure, Bezos’ access to VERY low-cost capital and minimal profit expectations gave him an advantage, but others have had those factors and no longer exist. It’s the fact that they are relentless in their focus on customers that makes the difference. Others have had it and lost it, FedEx is an example, but when your competition is UPS and USPS the bar is pretty low. Amazon has hundreds of competitors, so they can’t afford to lower their guard.
I was treated to a recent example of Amazon amazing this last two weeks and while the process needs improvement, the result was stunning.
I bought a file cabinet from one of their online stores, We Love Our Customers. (If anything was further from the truth, I am not sure what it would be, but I digress.) The cabinet arrived on time as agreed and needed handles screwed onto the 4 drawers (as advertised). Each drawer was to come with 2 screws. Unfortunately, one arrived with only one screw.
I contacted the seller and 2 days later they told me they would check with the “factory” to see if they could send me a new screw. 2 days later they told me they couldn’t but would offer me $8.00 as a credit or they could have me ship the unit back for a refund or replacement. I had not kept the box and could not believe they would want the entire product returned and then ship another for lack of a screw. I suggested if that was their solution they should just ship me another unit, I would remove the screw I needed and then ship the replacement back in its box. They didn’t like that idea, but offered no other solutions.
I escalated to Amazon customer service. Shortly afterwards I talked with a mediocre customer service person whose English was “ok” and who was clearly reading a script, but did want to help. She said she would look into things and get back to me and that I could file an A-Z refund claim. She called me back (pretty amazing) and, reading from her script, told me she was waiting for an answer from the seller. I filed an A-Z claim and was told it would be up to 2 weeks for them to “investigate.”
Meanwhile, I made several trips to the hardware store buying what I hoped would be the right size screw to replace the missing one. Turns out it’s a metric, fine machine screw, which, on my 5th try, I got right. So I have now solved my own problem. We Love Our Customers (liars) have said nothing and not communicated anything. Amazon calls me again (amazing) and I tell them I have solved the problem for about $25 in screws and 5 trips to the store. They offer to try to get me a $25 refund. I explain that is not really my issue. They do however, after another 2 days, get me the $25 refund.
I am quite upset by this whole process and have pretty much lost faith in Amazon’s vaunted customer service. Why? They don’t seem to be doing much, the rep is mediocre at best, and the A-Z process is taking too long. So, I start shifting my buying to other sites.
Today, out of nowhere, Amazon has refunded the entire purchase price and not asked for the item to be returned. Pretty amazing. Did it take WAY too long? Yes. Did Amazon lose some of my business in the mean time? Yes. However, what they ended up doing exceeded my expectations and I am now, again, a loyal customer.
Should they move faster? Yes. Should their reps be better English speakers without the need to read a script all the time? Yes. But the net result is more than most other companies would do. Good for them.