Customer Experience News & Trends

What’s next in the customer experience? Just look to Amazon

If you wonder what customers will want next, look to Amazon. The online giant transformed the customer experience for nearly all industries — and here’s what you can learn from what Amazon has done and will do.

Most companies kept pace with customer expectations in the past — timely answers, reliable delivery, practical solutions, good products and accurate information.

Then Amazon put service and expectations on steroids:

  • One week delivery was good enough. Now customers expect almost everything the next day.
  • One friend’s recommendation was good enough. Now customers expect 1,000 reviews on every product they consider.
  • A return policy was good enough. Now customers expect no-question, free returns.

The Amazon impact

It’s almost hard to remember customer service before Amazon because it has reshaped what most companies do now. Here are four trends Amazon started and B2B and B2C companies followed:

  1. Made the process simpler. It wasn’t that long ago customers called you to make all of their orders. Not everyone fully embraced online ordering after fax and email. Amazon made it the norm to keep customers’ information stored so the checkout process is as simple as one-click. To top that, Amazon made returns equally easy with a few clicks and an address label.
  2. Made thought-sharing easier. Amazon was one of the first companies to make reviews central to customer experiences. Allowing customers to share their thoughts — or just soak in what others have to say — made customers feel more comfortable with their purchases. Most companies have followed suit and built on that with reviews and chat rooms where customers can share thoughts in real-time.
  3. Made buying practical. Amazon led the way in making buying so easy that customers have been given almost too many choices. And Amazon responded to that by helping customers narrow their choices with “Frequently Bought Together.” They show customers what others who’ve bought the same item they what also purchased. That led the way for more companies to bundle products and services that fit customer needs.
  4. Made customers the driving focus. Not to say that companies didn’t obsess about their customers before Amazon, but the online retailer kept its eye on what customers did, not what competitors did. That’s helped it stay ahead of the curve — such as offering a sort of membership (Prime) as a convenience for customers willing to pay for its perks and offering streaming services as customers started to become even more mobile.

What’s next?

So what’s next for Amazon and possibly the overall customer experience? Here is what’s in the works and how it could affect (and improve) your customer experience:

  1. More convenience. Don’t think Amazon will stop at one-click purchasing and Prime to make the customer experience convenient. It’s already branching out to make brick-and-mortar retail easier with Amazon Go — a convenience store where purchases are tallied up as customers pick them off the shelves paid for as customers walk out the door, sans a cashier. Expect that to change the expectations for waiting. Customers will likely start to want the convenience of online shopping — click and buy — in brick-and-mortar establishments.
  2. Old-fashion personal touch. For perhaps the first time ever, Amazon employees work with customers face-to-face with AmazonFresh Pickup, where customers get items they ordered online via a scheduled a pick-up time. Amazon employees load the bags into customers’ cars — much like grocery store employees did after they packed them into bags and a cart in the 1970s and 80s. Real interaction with helpful people. Although customers like the convenience of automation, even Amazon is incorporating more personalized service, a trend more companies will likely follow.
  3. Expanded services. Amazon has long sold clothing, shoes and accessories just the same way it has sold books and toasters: Pick an item and click to buy. Now it’s using its fashion products to build a new service. Prime Wardrobe — which lets customers pick items or get suggestions on what to pair together, sends the outfits and gives customers time to choose their favorites, buy at a discount and/or mail back unwanted items. This isn’t the first product offering of its kind. But Amazon has deeper resources than similar services such as Stitch Fix. So the new service could change customers’ exceptions for clothing shopping as well.

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