What your Business Can Learn from Amazon’s Obsession with Good Customer Service

Sometimes, if you can't beat them, it's better to join them. Or at least follow their lead. That's especially true when it comes to companies like Amazon that model excellent customer service. They enjoy a 95 percent satisfaction rating for customer service (67 percent of customers were very satisfied). So, let’s learn from Amazon's record of excellence and apply these five lessons to your small business and the customer service you provide.

Focus on Customers, Not Competitors

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says his most important lesson in service is "word of mouth." In the past, an unhappy customer might tell six people. But online, that person might reach 6,000. So his strategic direction for the company centers on customer service. It guides their operational planning and is a critical part of their quality check.

Applying the lesson: Think about what guides planning for your small business. Does customer experience play a significant role? Consider doing a reality check on your word of mouth. What do your customers think about your service? Would they recommend it to others? The answers to questions like this help you make customer service your key focus.

Track What Customers Do

Amazon meticulously tracks how a customer progresses through the buying cycle. Each time you visit their website, they know what terms you've searched for, which items you looked at, and whether you left without buying. Over time, this data helps them measure the relative strength of the relationship.

Applying the lesson: Your business may not have the same level of information on every customer, but you can still keep track of your customers habits and preferences. Keep detailed records of purchases made by your customers including what they purchased and when to see if you can identify trends and offer timely discounts or specials.

Go Beyond What's Expected

Amazon can create personalized customer experiences with the information they gather. Then they supercharge it. For example, they'll show you similar items purchased by other people. It's a way of building a relationship and making the buying process more manageable.

Applying the lesson: How can you create unique experiences? Some businesses bundle other services based on a purchase. For example, an auto repair shop might offer a car wash with every scheduled oil change. It's one way to personalize the service you provide.

Monitor and Respond

Online reviews are becoming more important to buyers and current customers. Recognizing that, Amazon monitors when they are mentioned on social media. They respond to negative reviews by encouraging the reviewer to leave their contact information so they can make things right. That solves the current problem and demonstrates to would-be-buyers that Amazon takes service seriously.

Applying the lesson: There are a number of social media monitoring tools that scour the internet to identify when your business is mentioned. Depending on how you set up the tool, you will receive email or text alerts when a mention occurs. Here's a list of 15 social media monitoring tools—all of them are free.

Maintain Continuous Service

Amazon's service starts when you first arrive at their site. They remember your name, the last thing you ordered, and the item you left in your cart for later. It continues when you talk to them online or over the phone. And after the purchase, they keep you up to date on when you'll receive your order.

Applying the lesson: Small businesses might apply this to how employees are trained to provide service. It might start with how they greet the customer. For returning customers, they might ask about their satisfaction with their last purchase. A phone call after purchase might be a nice finishing touch for bigger purchases. The key is for service to be continuous throughout the buying cycle.

Learn from one of the best and apply these customer service lessons from Amazon to your small business. Use what sets them apart, and you may create a competitive advantage of your own.

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