Examining Amazon.Com’s Relentless Customer Advocacy

Last week I attended the Arizona State University, Center for Services Leadership (CSL) Compete Through Service Symposium. It was an excellent event. I was impressed by what the CSL is doing to equip future customer service/experience leaders.

One of the speakers was Mike Gathright, Director Americas Customer Services at Amazon.com. He describe Amazon.com as “The Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company,” or just EMC3. It’s no accident that Amazon.com scores so consistently high in the Temkin Experience Ratings and Temkin Customer Service Ratings. The company works on it.

I really love one of the company’s tenets, Relentlessly advocate for customers. It sounds like something that all companies should strive to do.

Gathright explained that Amazon.com has three key priorities:

  • Empower your people
  • Listen to customers
  • Invent for customers

To deliver on those priorities, the company uses a number of internal quality processes including Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Genba walk (seeing and observing the actual process or activity).

One of the quality efforts that I really like is the use of an Andon Cord. This is a concept where any employee can identify a quality problem and halt manufacturing. The implementation at Amazon.com is that any phone agent can pull the Andon cord (not a real cord), which will remove the buy button from all of its sites, immediately stopping the sale of a product. This step kicks off a process for the product team to find and solve the root cause of the problem.

To get the Andon cord going, Amazon.com celebrates its use and analyzes the savings from avoiding quality issues with products sent to customers. The company also built a tool to help associates decide if the situation they are seeing warrants them pulling the Andon cord.

Gathright also discussed the notion of one-way doors and two-way doors in the context of innovation. One-way doors are changes that you can’t undo, while two-way doors are changes that can be undone if they don’t work. He said that Amazon.com goes big and bold through two-way doors.

The company taps into its employees with a Twitter-like tool internally to crowd-source ideas. Employees submit ideas and they get voted up or down based on the likes and dislikes from associates. Gathright also said that the company believes in “hiring the right people and getting out of their way.”

To measure the effectiveness of Amazon.com’s customer service, the company asks a simple question: “Did we solve your problem?” The answer to that question is the only key metric.

When asked about the trade-off between CX and bottom line results, Gathright explained that it’s not “either/or,” it’s more like “both/and.”

The bottom line: Amazon.com is purposeful about delivering great CX.

Congrats To Industry Leaders in Customer Service

Since today is the last day of Customer Service Week, I’m give a shout out to industry leaders in the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings. The chart below shows the leaders across 19 industries, along with where they ranked compared with the 233 companies in the ratings.

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The bottom line: Happy Customer Service Week!

 

USAA and Capital One 360 Top 2014 Temkin Web Experience Ratings

We just published the 2014 Temkin Web Experience Ratings, the fourth year of the ratings. It uses feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate 222 organizations across 19 industries.

Download dataset for $295

USAA’s banking business took the top spot and Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) earned the second highest rating in the 2014 Temkin Web Experience Ratings, which rates 222 companies across 19 industries. USAA’s insurance and credit card businesses tied for third place.Rounding out the top 13 companies in the ratings are Charles Schwab, Amazon.com, credit unions, TD Bank, U.S. Bank, Sheraton, Ace Hardware, eBay, and Nordstrom.

The award for delivering the worst web experience goes to Coventry Health Care, followed closely by Medicaid. Four of the bottom 14 organizations are health plans and three are TV service providers. The remaining companies in the bottom 14 of the Temkin Web Experience Ratings are Charter Communications, Comcast (TV service and Internet service), Dunkin’ Donuts, Time Warner Cable (TV service and Internet service), Jack in the Box, CareFirst, MetroPCS, Highmark, Adobe, and Wendy’s.

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Here’s how the industries compare with each other:

1406_TWER_Industries

The 2014 Temkin Web Experience Ratings shows that companies have made improvements in web experience between 2013 and 2014. Led by airlines, which increased by nearly 15 percentage points since last year, 17 of 19 industries improved. The two industries that earned lower ratings in 2014 are parcel delivery services and rental cars.

Nearly two-thirds of the 195 organizations that were in both the 2013 and 2014 Temkin Web Experience Ratings improved this year. On average, firms earned an increase of 3.2 percentage points. Eleven companies improved by more than 15 percentage points: Southwest Airlines, Health Net, United Airlines, PetSmart, AOL, Sony, Bright House Networks, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Edward Jones, Cablevision, and AAA.

Six companies saw their Temkin Web Experience Ratings fall by 10 points or more between 2013 and 2014: Dunkin’ Donuts, Avis, Hertz, Jack in the Box, Dollar, and Blackboard.

1406_TWER_IncreaseDecrease

Methodology:

The data was collected from an online survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers during January 2014. Quotas were set to mirror the U.S. census data for age, income, gender, ethnicity, and geographic regions of the U.S. population.

Temkin Web Experience Ratings are based on asking consumers the following question about companies with whom they’ve had a customer service interaction during the previous 60 days: “Thinking back to your most recent interaction with the websites of these companies, how satisfied were you with the experience?” Potential responses range from 1= “very dissatisfied” to 7= “very satisfied.” Temkin Web Experience Ratings are calculated by taking the percentages of consumers who respond with a 6 or 7 and subtracting the percentage who respond with 1, 2, or 3.

Download dataset for $295

Temkin Ratings website
You can view a sortable list of results from the Temkin Web Experience Ratings as well as other ratings on the Temkin Ratings website.

 

Sam’s Club and Amazon.com Lead Retail Industry in 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings

We recently released the 2014 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 268 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

Sam’s Club and Amazon.com continue their reign as the highest-rated retailers for the third straight year, each earning an “excellent” rating. Sam’s Club narrowly beat out Amazon.com for the top spot, receiving an 81% rating and an overall rank of 8th out of 268 companies across 19 industries. With ratings of 79% each, Costco, PetSmart, Ace Hardware, and BJ’s Wholesale Club also earned high marks from customers. At the other end of the spectrum, RadioShack and Foot Locker tied for last place among 45 retailers. This is the fourth straight year that RadioShack has been at the bottom of the industry.

Download entire dataset for $395

RetailersA
Here are some additional findings from the retail industry: Read more of this post

Report: What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014

1402_WhatHappensAfterGoodBadExperiences_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, What Happens After a Good or Bad Experience, 2014. The report, which includes 19 data charts, examines which companies and industries provide the most bad experiences, what impact those experiences have on spending, and how the negative impacts of bad experiences can be mitigated by good service recovery. The report also examines how consumers share their good and bad experiences with companies as well as with other people. Here’s the executive summary:

To understand the effect of good and bad experiences, we asked 10,000 U.S. consumers about their recent interactions with 268 companies across 19 industries. Results show that Internet services and TV services are the industries most likely to deliver a bad experience to their customers, while grocery chains are the least likely to. At the company level, Scottrade had the smallest percentage of customers reporting a recent bad experience with the company and Time Warner Cable had the highest. More than half of the customers who encountered a bad experience at a fast food chain, credit card issuer, grocery store, or hotel either decreased their spending with the company or stopped altogether. However, our data shows that a good service recovery effort can help mitigate a bad experience. Unfortunately, many firms—especially in the banking, Internet services, and TV services sectors—aren’t very good at service recovery. In addition to the consequences of bad interactions, we also examined which channels customers use to share their good and bad experiences and how these changed across age groups. We then compared these results to survey responses from the past two years. We also uncovered a negative bias inherent in how customers provide feedback. ING Direct, Residence Inn, and Fairfield Inn have the most negative bias in the feedback they receive directly from customers, while Hy-Vee and Hyundai have the most negative bias on Facebook. 

Click link to see full list of industries and companies covered in this report (.pdf).

Download report for $195
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One of the most interesting analyses in the report is the look at how service recovery after a bad experience affects the spending pattern of consumers. Here’s a summary of one of the charts showing just how important it is for a company to recover well after making a mistake:

1402_EconomicsOfServiceRecovery

Here are some other insights from the research:

  • Sixteen percent of consumers who have interacted with TV service and Internet service providers report having a bad experience over the previous six months. Next on the list are wireless carriers, with 12% of their customers reporting a bad experience. At the other end of the spectrum, only 3% of consumers report a bad experience with grocery chains and 4% report having a bad experience with fast food chains.
  • The five companies with the most customers reporting bad experiences are Time Warner Cable (25%), Motel 6 (22%), Coventry Health Care (21%), and Comcast (21%). There were 10 companies with only 1% or less of their customers reporting bad experiences: Scottrade, Chick-fil-A, H.E.B., Whole Foods, ShopRite, ING Direct, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Vanguard, and True Value.
  • More than one-quarter of consumers who have a bad experience stop spending with computer makers, car rental agencies, credit card issuers, hotel chains, and software companies. The impact of bad experiences is less costly for parcel delivery services, wireless carriers, health plans, TV service providers, Internet service providers, and grocery chains, as less than 15% of their customers with bad experience stopped spending.
  • The industries that are the best at responding to a bad experience are investment firms, major appliances, retailers, and car rental agencies. The industries that are the worst at responding to a bad experience are TV service providers, wireless carriers, Internet service providers, parcel delivery services, and health plans.
  • Thirty-two percent of consumers give feedback directly to companies after a very bad experience and 23% give feedback after a very good experience.
  • Overall, 25- to 34-year-olds are the most likely to share feedback about their experiences. After a good experience 57% tell a friend directly, 28% share on Facebook, and 18% put a comment or rating on a review site. After a bad experience, 60% tell a friend directly, 31% share on Facebook, and 20% write a review.

Download report for $195
BuyDownload3

The bottom line: Make sure to recover quickly after a bad experience

Improve the Experience for Gift Card Recipients

In a recent research report we used Temkin Group’s SLICE-B experience review methodology to evaluate the experience of buying a gift card online from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, CVS, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. But those journeys don’t end when the gift card is sent; there’s an important person on the other side of those gifts—the recipient. So, to analyze the entire end-to-end gift-card experience provided by each retailer, we took a look at the experience from the viewpoint of the person who received the gift cards.

You can download a free copy of our Insight Snapshot: Gift Card Receiving Experience (.pdf) that includes screen shots of the best practices.

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Here are some of the best practices that we found: Read more of this post

50 CX Tips: eBook and Infographic

1310_50CXTips_COVERI recently completed a series of 50 customer experience (CX) tips. To make it easier for people to read and download all of the tips, I assembled them into a free eBook: 50 CX Tips: Simple Ideas, Powerful Results.

Each of the 50 CX Tips is aligned with one or more of Temkin Group’s four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Compelling Brand Values, Employee Engagement, and Customer Connectedness.

The CX Tips include examples from a wide variety of companies including Adobe, Amazon.com, Apple, BCBS of Michigan, Becker and Poliakoff, Big Lots, BMO Financial Group, Bombardier Aerospace, CDW, Charles Schwab, Citrix, Disney, EMC, Fidelity Investments, Hampton Inn, Hilton, IBM, Intersil, Intuit, JetBlue, Microsoft, Oklahoma City Thunder, Oracle, Safelite AutoGlass, Salesforce.com, SanDIsk, SimplexGrinnell, Southwest Airlines, Sovereign Assurance of NZ, Sprint, Starbucks, Stream Global Services, Sam’s Club, USAA, VMware, and ZocDoc.
DownloadButton200wWhile you may have a hard time applying all 50 CX TIps, you should be able to identify several that will work for your organization. I challenge you to select three or more of the CX Tips to implement. Here’s an idea: Have each of your team members pick the five CX Tips that they think would be the most powerful for your organization. Use a team meeting to discuss everyone’s selections and pick the ones you want to implement.

We also created an infographic with the 50 CX tips. Here’s a version with the top 10 CX tips (click on the graphic to get a .pdf of the full infographic).

Top10CXTips_TemkinGroupThe bottom line: A handful of CX Tips can propel your customer experience.

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