The Amazon Customer Experience

I was on the phone last week with the head of one of the business units at my company (a large technology firm).  He wanted me to work with our customer experience team to improve the navigation and functionality of some of his business’s web pages.  I asked him to send me an example of a best in class website that we could use to model the changes after.  Of course he chose the website that everyone chooses when having a conversation about customer experience, Amazon.  This got me to thinking, what has Amazon done so well in order to be unanimously considered the best platform when it comes to customer experience?  Below I’ve outlined the top 3 aspects of the Amazon customer experience that I consider to be game changers.

 

  1. Dynamic Content

Dynamic content refers to website content that changes regularly or constantly based on user interaction / behaviors.  The content could be video, text, color scheme, pricing, etc.  The benefit of dynamic content is that every visitor to the website has a unique experience based on their interests and past website behaviors.  The content on the website is uniquely tailored to the viewer’s needs and provides an easier browsing experience.  Amazon’s dynamic content feature provides the user with recommended products based on their product browsing and purchase history.  Amazon relies on a detailed algorithm that predicts associated products in order to show recommendations.  The product recommendations are also based on “like customers” or “like purchases.”  Customers that behave in a similar manner or have purchased similar products in the past are grouped into segments, and products associated with those segments are pushed to those customers.  While dynamic content clearly plays a role in improving customer experience, it also allows Amazon to cross-sell many of their products without coming across in an overly salesman-like or pushy way.

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  1. Customer Reviews

While customer reviews are relatively commonplace in today’s digital world, Amazon was among the first to offer and perfect the customer review experience.  From a marketing perspective, word of mouth is the most persuasive tool for convincing purchase behavior.  Customer reviews act as word of mouth advertising for websites as they provide readers with a sense of trust and validation for the site’s products.  Not only do reviews provide customers with trusted insights before they actually purchase the product, but they are a means by which brands can be held accountable for their product quality.  Part of Amazon’s value relies on the network effect tied to customer reviews.  The more customers purchase through Amazon and leave reviews, the more customers decide to come to Amazon and trust the products on the site.  This cyclical pattern that partly contributes to Amazon’s growth could only be made possible by a top-notch customer experience.

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  1. Simple Shopping Experience

Amazon has continued to improve the customer shopping experience through innovation.  One click shopping allows Amazon to auto populate shipping address, billing address, and payment details for customers based on previous interactions.  One click shopping is now commonplace among ecommerce sites and other online purchasing sites, but Amazon was one of the first to incorporate this user experience tool into its website.  Recently Amazon has taken the digital purchase process to new heights with the development of dash buttons and the ability to order products through Alexa.  The dash buttons are WiFi enabled product buttons that, when pressed, automatically place an order through Amazon.  The buttons can be conveniently placed around a customer’s house so that when they notice they are running low on a product, reordering is right at their fingertips.  Amazon is seeking to further distinguish itself in the world of ecommerce by improving customer experience and ordering ease.  Amazon made their customer shopping experience even easier when they introduced Alexa.  Alexa takes the ordering experience one step further than the dash buttons by allowing customers to order by simply speaking out loud.

Amazon revolutionized customer experience for digital business back when it was founded in 1994, and they continue to move the industry forward today with their innovative ideas and customer centric strategy.  It will be interesting and exciting to see how Amazon plans to shape the world of digital customer experience in the years to come.  I’m sure my company and businesses around the globe will continue to use Amazon as a case study from which to model their online customer experience strategies.

7 comments

  1. Great post. I do think we’ve become so familiar with the Amazon experience that we take its greatness for granted. I’m also very impressed at how they continue to innovate (e.g. AWS, Prime services, Echo) and I don’t think they get enough credit for being an extremely innovative company.

  2. Nice post. I think a lot of consumers (including myself) take for granted some of the things that Amazon has made the norm in e-commerce. Remember when you had to wait 7-10 days if you wanted free shipping? Now if anything I order online takes more than two days, it’s an inconvenience. As you mentioned, what Amazon accomplished with its review system is really pretty amazing from a customer experience standpoint. I almost can’t bring myself to order products (or go to a restaurant, for that matter) without seeing some meaningful amount of positive reviews.

  3. terencenixdorf · ·

    As someone that uses Amazon Prime at last once a month, I truly appreciate their customer experience and a lot of the time it keeps me from ordering elsewhere. Just last month I was looking to buy a Garmin GPS watch for running and Amazon gave me a side by side view of their 5 latest models where I was able to compare the features & prices. Each watch had hundreds of reviews and a lot of them linked to YouTube videos (turns out many reviewers make videos to show the actual features). When I finally decided on a watch, I went onto Garmin’s website and it was more expensive with not nearly as many reviews as Amazon had provided me. I got the watch within 2 days from Amazon and the recommended items on the Amazon homepage have all been geared towards winter running/fitness items which makes it easier for me to look for things that I potentially need (or buy unnecessary things impulsively). Amazon is to online shopping what Michael Jordan is to basketball.

  4. talkingtroy · ·

    Interesting post – I wonder what additional things they thought about when deciding what content to show you again in ads or if they have considered an option to browse privately (i.e. if my partner and I share a computer or account and engagement rings keep popping up it can spoil the surprise). From my experience, they have balanced showing you relevant content without over-selling. CVS provides a similar but much more primitive method with their coupons and that backfired for me years ago when I had to buy nail polish remover for an event my students were planning and I kept getting feminine product coupons for a few months. I also remember Target getting in trouble with their mailers because they were collecting data on purchases and people got creeped out when Target “knew” they were pregnant and started sending baby stuff they didn’t request. New businesses considering these options need to discuss implementation strategies to avoid some of these pitfalls and maximize sales.

  5. duffyfallon · ·

    I agree that Amazon epitomizes best in class customer experience. The three points you’ve identified in this post are key components of Amazon’s customer-centric strategy – content is tailored to your wants and needs, you have a wide variety of product options with reliable reviews, and getting what you need can be as easy and simple as a single click. I order just about everything on Amazon these days – and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. For example, I lost the cap to my water bottle, and was able to get the exact cap I needed just the next day. I would’ve never taken the time to go into Boston to find an $8 cap- and even if I did, I would’ve had no idea where to go to find it. Amazon is an incredibly dominant force that I believe will only become more relevant in our lives (in a variety of new and different ways) as time goes on.

  6. dcardito13 · ·

    I think customer service is one of the key aspects that drives the loyalty and success of a company. This was a really great analysis of Amazon’s customer experience. I like how you broke it down into the three main attributes of this service because I really do think they are the most important out of the entire experience. Your discussion of the dynamic content was very on point because I feel like the personalization of the shopping experience really can make or break a product or service.

  7. one of my biggest concerns about graduating is not qualifying for student prime… so I’m a big fan and I’ve had many moments where I felt thankful for Amazon. I liked your post not only because you strengthened my faith in Amazon but also for pointing out the three qualities that I agree are its biggest strengths. The only thing I’d like to criticize Amazon for is the prevalence of “fake” reviews, that is to say positive comments left by people who were hired to do so. I noticed the company was trying to rid its review section of those by creating a “verified buyer” label, but I don’t think it’s done much. Other than that, I’m all for the dynamic and simple shopping experience Amazon offers.

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