Rachel Cobleigh (reveilles) wrote,
Rachel Cobleigh

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Amazon love

No, this has nothing to do with wild women in the jungle.

It has everything to do with Amazon.com's rockin' customer service.

So often we have plenty of reasons to complain about the completely-unsatisfying customer service provided by companies (e.g., long phone wait times, automated phone systems, automated content-free email messages, incompetent/unfriendly/rude phone staff, a general sense of not really being heard), but now that somebody's doing it RIGHT, I want to sing their praises loudly!

It started out with Amazon messing up in a big way, though for an admirable purpose.

jcobleigh and I are small-time sellers on Amazon's Marketplace and it has treated us well for several years. Every time somebody buys something we're selling, Amazon used to send us an (unencrypted) email message with all the sales information, including the buyer's shipping and email addresses. With that one email message, we could do all the packaging we needed and get the order shipped very quickly.

Some kind of legal/privacy uproar recently occurred, and so to comply with new policies that would protect buyers' privacy (an admirable goal!), last week Amazon removed all the buyer's contact information from the unencrypted email messages, and instead sent us an email with a very small summary of the sold item and a very wordy and confusing set of instructions for going to our seller page and finding all the necessary information.

I need to provide a bit of context: we usually discover orders when we wake up in the morning and are reading our email over breakfast, so we package them up before we leave the house and ship them on our way to work. This means that we are generally groggy when we process the orders (no, we've never mis-shipped an order: we're not that groggy) and we don't have much spare time to futz with things. In short, the new process flummoxed us completely and we didn't have time to sort it all out until we got back home after work. It was very annoying, because now we had to hunt around through several different web pages with their plethora of unintuitive links to compile all the information that used to be provided in one place for us.

I went off on my (now) usual lack-of-usability rant and we agreed that we should let them know our dislike of the new process. I also had encountered a couple of serious usability problems (one of which was actually a bug in the implementation, I was later told) on two other pages, so I called Amazon on Friday.

I usually avoid phone calls to companies if possible in favor of email, but since my inability to send them an email was one of the usability problems mentioned earlier, I ended up at their Contact Us by Phone page, which worked wonderfully and intuitively the first time.

If you ever have to contact Amazon, call them.

This prompted Amazon love: I clicked the "Call Me" button, entered my phone number, my phone rang approximately 1 second later, I listened to the usual automated "thank you for calling us" message, waited through 5 rings, and got an intelligent human being. This person:
  • listened to everything I said,
  • had an actual conversation with me that didn't feel like they were trying to rush me off the line,
  • told me that they'd been hearing a lot of the same complaints from other people recently,
  • told me that they'd forward the feedback to a specific department, and
  • in general left me completely shocked (in a really good way) and totally satisfied by the end of the phone call.
I told them how impressed I was with the feedback system.

Two days later, we had another sale, and the email Amazon sent us was much improved, the process was much easier. In fact, one of the pages we found almost immediately had exactly the collection of information that I recommended, though I don't expect that it was because of me in particular. I'm sure others had suggested the same thing before I did. The love increased.

I called them again today to give them the love and to ask if they could tweak the process into nirvana for me. They told me that the business-model people had rejected the particular suggestion that I had made, but that they would still forward the idea onto those people, because it was a good idea that others had also asked for. Then the person got downright friendly and unrushed again and told me that the company had been unaware just how much of an impact their policy change would have on their seller base. Apparently they had gotten swamped with feedback almost immediately. I again ended the conversation feeling like I was heard, whether or not changes could be made. Again, an intelligent person on the other end of the phone and a relatively short wait time (this one was closer to 1 minute, but I'm not complaining).

So I'm spreading the Amazon love, because they're handling customer feedback really well and my respect for them has moved up a couple of notches.

Quick, go buy something from them. Or us. :)

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