I was driving to work this morning and flipped the radio to CNBC (yes, I’m a business nerd). I’m glad I did. One of the guests was talking about why Amazon has succeeded in the internet shopping arena where several others have failed. The host mentioned a bunch of failed internet businesses – pets.com, Webvan, etc. The guest replied, “Jeff Bezos and Amazon aren’t in the internet shopping business; they’re in the customer service business. Everything Amazon does is centered around the customer.”
That statement sums up why Amazon gets a valuation premium vs. other retailers and internet companies. Amazon has expanded from a book seller to sell virtually any product and a lot of services. They’ve been able to enter new markets because they’ve built trust with their customers. I had one “bad” experience with Amazon. My first Kindle went black after I’d had it for less than a few months. Amazon replaced it within 48 hours of me notifying them about the issue. Guess what? When my wife needed a new device, a Kindle was the choice. The phrase turning lemons into lemonade doesn’t do how Amazon handles issues justice. I’ve blogged about Bezos before and if you haven’t read “The Everything Store,” you should pick it up immediately.
World class customer service isn’t easy. To accomplish it, you must be world class in your operations. It’s a constant battle to get better and fix issues no matter what your business is. To survive, you must be improving how you do things. But to thrive in the hyper-competitive, instant gratification world we live in today, you must layer world class service on top of your operations. Despite all of our technological advances, people still buy from people and businesses they trust. That will never change.