By Shep Hyken
For a number of years, I’ve preached that our customers no longer compare us just to our direct competitors, but instead to the brands they enjoy doing business with the most. In other words, the ones that provide the best customer service and experience. In many of my customer service and CX keynote speeches, I’ll ask the audience to shout out the companies they love doing business with. Without fail, someone – usually many people – mentions Amazon.
Amazon has educated its customer as to what a great experience looks like. It meets and exceeds consumer expectations, and now customers want, hope, and expect every company they do business with to be as good as Amazon.
I don’t care if you’re B2B or B2C, everyone you do business with is a consumer at some level. Even if you’re selling a big machine to a factory, there are still expectations that are shaped by retail experiences with customer-focused companies like Amazon. In the past, I’ve referred to this as the Amazonation of the world.
Here are three ways Amazon sets a high bar that customers love – and expect from you.
- Super-Fast Delivery – In some cases, Amazon delivers in one or two hours, not one or two days. When you see how quickly you receive your order, you might be thinking, “Why can’t every company deliver that fast?” Most of us realize that Amazon has built its own shipping and distribution system. Still, it is setting a high bar. How fast do you deliver, return calls or do anything else that might get the customer to say, “You’re fast!”?
- Free Shipping and/or Delivery – You might say, “Amazon provides free shipping,” which might then lead you to ask, “Why do I have to pay a shipping fee from other companies I do business with?” Actually, Amazon doesn’t provide free shipping. To get what appears to be free shipping, you have to pay $139 for an annual Prime membership. So, free is not really free. For some companies, what appears to be free is built into the price. Although it’s really not free, it’s about perceived value. So, what are you offering that makes customers feel as if they receive value, whether it’s free or not?
- A Sense of Control – Whether customers refer to this as a sense of being in control or something else, most people have a confident feeling about their Amazon transactions. I refer to it as feeling in control, even if you aren’t. Amazon’s frequent email communications give you confidence that the order has gone through, is out for delivery with tracking information available, and that it has arrived. This is an easy one to emulate. Just set up automated systems to inform customers of the progress of whatever they are buying from you.
You can wrap these three ideas into the concept of creating confidence. Customers can predict their Amazon experience with almost 100% accuracy. The consistency of Amazon getting it right, fast service, value in the Prime membership (which includes free shipping) and frequent communication updates fuel that confidence. And confidence turns into trust – which can turn into repeat business and even customer loyalty. That is what Amazon has mastered, and it’s something you and your organization can do, too!