Amazon grew into the behemoth it is today in part as a result of an obsession with its customers. Many of the lessons the company learned along the way can benefit your business too, says John Rossman, a former Amazon executive. Rossman just released the third edition of The Amazon Way, a book aimed at helping business owners translate Amazon's unique culture and management practices into usable opportunities. Here are four customer service tips he recommends you borrow from the e-commerce giant.
1. The best customer service is no customer service.
The best experience for the customer happens when they never have to ask for help at all. "You have to be willing to fundamentally improve the customer experience and should try to eliminate all the things we ask of customers," Rossman says. The key is to pay close attention to all the little questions and support issues customers have, so you can eliminate the root causes of them.
2. Your customer is someone's mom. Treat them that way.
It is much easier to give customers a pleasant experience and use proper manners when you view them as parental figures. (This works well for employees, competitors, and partners, too.) Conduct your conversations and treatment of customers as if you were talking to your mom. You might also make your real mom proud in the process.
3. Work backward from the customer.
Working backward from the customer is an Amazon phrase that means, rather than starting with an idea for new products or improvements for existing ones, leading with what the customer is looking forward to and what they want their experience to be. Then, work backward in determining what needs to be done to provide the experience. Writing website content, future press releases, frequently asked questions, and user manuals from the point of view of the customer prior to product launches helps improve customer service as well, Rossman says.
4. Invent and simplify
"Invent and simplify means any time you innovate or create an improvement, you make things simpler for the customer," Rossman says. "This creates a better experience for your customer and business." You should always look for innovations that will help improve and simplify the use of your product and how customers interact with it. This will reduce friction, which includes not just customer complaints, but also other questions and contacts.