How to compete with amazon

How to Compete with Amazon on Customer Service

Everyone seems to have a personal example of a time when Amazon’s customer support wowed them. 

For me, it was when my Kindle broke. I went online to tell them about the problem, only half expecting that they’d fix the issue. But within minutes of logging on, the agent had promised to ship me a new device with no questions asked. 

That was a big win for me, as my new Kindle arrived in the post a few days later for no extra cost. But Amazon benefited too – I’ve since spent hundreds of dollars on books. 

In this article, we’ll explore what makes Amazon’s support so great. We’ll also provide tips you can use to compete with them.

To Compete With Amazon’s Customer Support, You Must Understand Why It’s So Good

Knowing why Amazon’s support is so effective means discovering what the company’s teams try to do daily. 

We have some great insight into exactly this. The company has six customer service tenets that drive its teams to provide better service. 

The tenets are:

  1. Advocate relentlessly for customers.
  2. Trust our customers and rely on associates to use good judgment. 
  3. Anticipate customer needs and treat their time and attention as sacred. 
  4. Deliver personalized, peculiar experiences that customers love. 
  5. Make it simple to detect and systematically escalate problems. 
  6. Eliminate customer effort through this sequential and systematic approach: defect elimination, self-service, automation, and support from an expert associate. 

In this article, we’ll look at each one and discuss what they mean for your contact center.

customer satisfaction

How to Compete with Amazon on Customer Service

#1 Relentlessly advocate for customers 

The first tenet is perhaps the most important. 

Amazon is always trying to improve the customer experience. It’s hard to argue that it hasn’t succeeded in this goal – whether through expanding the services available to customers or improving support. 

To achieve this in your contact center, you need to build an intolerance of poor customer service. 

This is something babelforce CEO Pierce Buckley often highlights to our clients; it makes sense to constantly improve the service you offer, even if you could get away with less. 

Making this change requires significant effort. 

But the great news is that realizing things have to change, and being willing to do something about it, is the first step towards reaching your goals.

#2 Trust our customers and rely on associates to use good judgment

The second tenet is two parts. 

The first is about trusting customers. Amazon lives this advice in many ways: from how easy returns are to helping customers find answers independently. 

The second part is trusting its associates to use their judgment when providing support. 

This suggests the company has freed its agents from having to stick to suffocating scripts. Doing so enables staff to help customers in the way that best suits their unique problems.

The experience I highlighted in this article’s introduction is the perfect example of the above. 

The agent trusted that I wasn’t lying about my Kindle to get a free device. And the company trusted the agent to send me a new one without managerial approval. 

Achieving these tenets is remarkably Straightforward.

Building up your self-service resources will help with the first point. Knowledge bases, chatbots, or conversational IVRs are simple ways to do this.

Customers benefit from self-service due to 24/7 access to customer support. And your team benefits as it deals with fewer questions. 

The second point is about changing the way you ask agents to provide support. Offering more freedom helps them provide a responsive and personal customer experience. 

#3 Anticipate customer needs and treat their time and attention as sacred

This point is all about proactive customer support – which is one of the best ways to delight customers. 

It means you anticipate customer issues and solve them before the customer contacts you.

The most famous Amazon example of this is the company’s policy of refunding streaming rentals that suffer from buffering problems. 

The company has a system that automatically detects issues and refunds the customers. 

Not all examples of proactive support are this high-tech: we’ve all received emails from the company providing delivery updates or telling us about sold-out items that are back in stock. 

Implementing similar tactics in your contact center is easier than you think. 

It’s just a case of discovering triggers that suggest a customer may be having a poor experience (like stuttering video playback) and then creating automated actions that occur when this happens. 

Get it right and you’ll not only offer improved customer experiences, but you’ll also reduce call volume. This frees up your team to focus on problems you can’t solve proactively. 

customer lifetime value

#4 Deliver personalized, peculiar experiences that customers love

Personalization is a huge customer service trend, so it’s no surprise that Amazon made it one of the company’s support rules.

The company is well-known for its personalization efforts, such as how it provides product recommendations based on a customer’s shopping and viewing history.

The company also personalizes customer service interactions. It has access to vast amounts of customer data that ensures agents have a complete overview of a customer’s problem. This lets them tailor service to their needs. 

Providing a similar experience in a contact center is simple. You just need the right tools. 

Pushing customer data along with each call is one way to do this. This allows agents to greet customers by their names when they answer the call. 

They also get insight into recent account activity like orders or open support tickets. This means they can jump straight into solving the customer problem. 

customer service personalization

#5 Make it simple to detect and systematically escalate problems.

Most contact centers try to avoid escalation as it involves time-consuming and costly call transfers. 

But there are times when it is necessary. In these cases, streamlining the process will improve the customer experience. 

This point also seems to relate to the idea of detecting problem patterns. 

Amazon agents work on the frontlines of customer support. This makes them well placed to see issues as they occur. 

Encouraging agents to detect patterns and clarifying who they should notify helps the company get on top of problems early.

To implement this in your contact center, you need to create a clear escalation process. 

Help agents spot the kinds of problems that could point to something bigger. Also, provide specific instructions about who to contact when they spot one. 

A good example of this is AT&T. The company noticed it received a lot of calls from new customers asking to clear up billing issues. 

Once it spotted the problem, the company started to send out an explainer with every first bill that told new customers what each item was. This simple solution cut bill shock-related call volume significantly.

#6 Eliminate customer effort through a sequential and systematic approach

Amazon has a clear strategy to deflect customer tickets away from the support team. 

It comes in four stages:

  1. Identifying and removing issues before they occur.
  2. Providing plentiful resources to help customers solve issues independently.
  3. Automating support where possible.
  4. Making it easy for customers to access live support.  

The key isn’t to block access to support as this would provide a negative experience. 

Instead, it’s to show customers the self-service options they have available and make using them easy. 

It’s possible to implement these ideas in your contact center. The first step is to remove problems. Think about why customers contact you and whether there is anything you can do to fix these issues before they affect people. 

The next step is creating self-service resources and directing customers towards them. 

Examples of this are using self-service IVR to help with simple customer queries and adding a knowledge base search bar to your chat widget. 

Finally, make sure that customers can easily contact your team. Consider an omnichannel approach to customer service that allows people to contact you on the channel they find easiest to use. 

Follow These Steps for Better Support

Following these steps won’t make your company Amazon. But they will certainly help you offer support that competes with the e-commerce giant’s service. 

We have plenty of resources if you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your contact center support. 

Check out this article on how to cut AHT in customer-friendly ways, or this one about the power of hiring a CX specialist.

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