Tag Archives: amazon.com

What was your best customer service experience last year?

April 8, 2016

What was your best customer service experience last year?

That’s the question I asked 31 participants at a recent workshop I was facilitating. The responses were enlightening, entertaining and had something in common. In almost every case an employee with the company or organization had gone beyond their regular job duties to make sure that the customer was more than satisfied, indeed received something that they had not expected.

Amazon.com was the company mentioned several times. In one case, one of the participants from Mississippi told of how she lost a cellphone power cord during a visit to a family member in North Carolina. To her amazement, she received a package a few days later from Amazon.com that contained her power cord. She wondered how such a thing could have happened. It turned out that while on her visit to North Carolina she had returned a pair of shoes to Amazon.com. It seems that the power cord had somehow dropped into the shoe box. When the Amazon.com employee opened the returned shoes they found the power cord, packaged it and sent it to the customer in Mississippi.

Another participant told about her experience with a Target store. She had left her purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot because she had been attending to her young grandchildren. In addition to the usual credit cards, there was several hundred dollars in cash in the purse. When she arrived at home there was a message on her home telephone informing her that her purse had been found and could be picked up at the store. She went back to the Target store and learned that the employee whose job it was to collect the shopping carts from the parking lot had found her purse and turned it in. He told her that he did so because someone had done it to a member of his family and he felt that he should do the same.

Two participants related stories of how an employee paid their bills because they had forgotten to update their expired credit cards. Although the amounts were relatively small there was certainly no requirement for an employee to take their own money to pay a customer’s bill. And yes, the customers returned to the stores and repaid the employees.

And then there was the case of the participant who went on a Carnival cruise with her friend. The friend had a certain eating disorder that required a certain type of meal. At dinner on the first evening of the cruise the server was informed of the condition, to which he replied that there was no problem because the kitchen was prepared. When the meal arrived it had to be sent back because it did not meet what had been ordered. When the replacement meal arrived it too was unsatisfactory. The diner/customer did not eat it and apparently displayed a bit of displeasure on her face. The dining room manager noticed the situation, apologized and had a private table for them with the appropriate food for the remainder of the cruise.

In another case, a customer called a state agency that needed some information from the customer’s income tax return. The employee at the state agency took the time to go line-by-line to help the customer fill out the form and help provide the information. When a fellow employee asked why that was done when it was not necessary, the helpful employee stated, “I treat everyone who calls here just like I would want my mother to be treated.”

The stories served to remind me that there was still plenty to celebrate in the customer service world. I also discovered that there is an organization, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) that researches and surveys this topic. Each quarter it publishes a report on overall U.S. customer satisfaction. The index is on a scale of 1 – 100. ACSI’s latest results reveal that overall consumer satisfaction is dropping slightly. In the 4th quarter of 2015 the Index stood at 73.4. That compares to 75.2 in the same quarter in 2014 and 76.3 at the same time in 2013. By the way, the 2013 score was the highest 4th quarter mark in over 30 years. You can see much more details reports of various industries and companies at http://www.theacsi.org.

Below are the ASCI 2015 scores by industry, followed by the score for federal departments.
Manufacturing/Durable Goods …………79
Accommodation & Food Services ……..78
Manufacturing/Nondurable goods …..77
Retail trade ……………………………….…..77
Health care & Social Assistance …….…75
Finance & Insurance ……………………….75
Energy Utilities ………………………………74
Transportation ………………………………74
Information …………………………………..69
Local Government ………………….……..64
Federal Government …………….……….64

Here are the 2015 scores for federal departments:
Interior ……………………………………..75
State ………………………………………….71
Defense …………………………………….70
Homeland Security ………………….…67
Commerce …………………………………66
Social Security Administration ……66
Agriculture ………………………………..63
Health & Human Services ………….62
Transportation ………………………….61
Education ………………………………….61
Veterans Affairs ……………………..….60
Justice ………………………………………59
Treasury …………………………….……..55

The Crazy World of Book Buying

December 29, 2014

Today I read an article about John Hailman’s latest book, “The Search for Good Wine.” Hailman is a fascinating individual. He’s a former federal prosecutor, syndicated food, wine and travel columnist, law school professor and a graduate of my alma mater, Millsaps College. I’ve read one of his previous books, “From Midnight to Guntown.” Having a slightly above average interest in wine and having just returned from a week in Burgundy, France I just had to get Hailman’s book on wine. Another influence was that he was a Mississippian. Hmm… a Mississippian and wine. That just doesn’t seem to go together, does it? Alas, another reason to order the book. Off I went online in search of places to order the book. Being that today is the week after Christmas the thought of a good deal entered my mind.

My first online stop was the website of University Press, the book’s publisher. It listed the price as $29.95 (cloth), plus $2.62 tax and $7.50 for shipping, for a  total of $40.07.

Next was Amazon.com, which offered a variety of prices. They were as follows:
Hardcover (?) version for $22.19, plus $4.98 shipping = $27.17;
“New” – 34 from $16.86, plus $3.99 shipping = $20.85;
“Used” – 10 from $15.11, plus $3.99 shipping = $19.10; and
Kindle edition for $16.49.

Further searching revealed that Target.com offered the book for $9.19, plus $2.79 shipping and $.84 tax, for a total of $12.82.

Finally, I checked my local independent bookstore, Lemuria Books, and discovered that it had the book in stock at a price of $29.95, plus tax of $3.97, for a total of $32.34. However, there was something special about this copy of the book. It was a signed, first edition. Because I live about a mile from this bookstore I did not consider shipping costs.

So there it is. My choices are to buy the physical book online, where the price range is from $12.82 to $40.07, delivered to my doorstep or drive a mile and pay$32.34 for a signed first edition. And of course there is the Kindle edition, which is a click away for $16.49.

The crazy, fascinating world of book buying.

 

Messaging, marketing, communication and stories start off my day.

When I awoke this morning I sensed that it was earlier than usual.  Perhaps it was because it was so dark.  You know, that “darkest before dawn” thing.  I reached over to the nightstand and mashed the button on my iPhone to check the time.   It shined 4:59 back at me.  There was also a “Breaking News” item displayed.  It reported that two Iranian warships had entered the Suez Canal.  Hmm.  I had been thinking about that story – and how it has been reported – for the past two days.  I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I usually get up at 6:00 a.m.  I decided to go ahead and get up.  It was only an hour before my usual wakeup time, and I had slept well during the night probably because I had played tennis the evening before.

I started the coffee brewing, retrieved the Wall Street Journal from the driveway and dug into the news, for I am nothing else if not a news junkie.  The story that caught my attention was about Wal-Mart and how “…executives veered away from the winning formula of late founder Sam Walton to provide ‘every day low prices’ to the American working class.”  I was also intrigued by an article about how some attorneys are using Facebook and other social media as part of their jury selection process.

Next, I checked my e-mail and discovered that there was an update for my Kindle e-reader.  I clicked on the “Learn more” hyperlink and did just that.  While on the Amazon.com Web site I somehow discovered a book by Seth Godin entitled “All Marketers Are Liars.” I then learned that one of the updated features of the Kindle is that Kindle readers can now see what other readers have highlighted.  Wow, how cool!  But wait.  Amazon now knows what I highlight in my Kindle?  Hmm.  Anyway, I like Seth Godin’s marketing and messaging blog so I checked out the book.  The book’s message is basically this (from product description):

Seth Godin’s three essential questions for every marketer:
“What’s you story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”

All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better–and look cooler–than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true.

Hmm.  Good stuff – for I believe that message.  If you have heard me speak or write about marketing communities, you know that I stress that the community must tell its story.  I think I’ll buy the book.  I click on the book’s image and discover that the Kindle edition is $18.99 (set by the publisher), the hardcover Amazon price is $9.58 and the lowest used price is $4.56.  Do I even need to tell you which one I purchased?

By now it is 6:00 a.m.  I have learned that news gets twisted – compare the Fox News story, the BusinessWeek story and the BBC story about the Iranian warships entering the Suez Canal.  I also learned that I could view this story based on what I “believe” (see Seth Godin book), and get really scared or say “Ho-hum.”  I also now wonder if what I highlight in my Kindle e-book may somehow be used in court against me some day.  BREAKING NEWS.  And now I see that Wal-Mart 4th quarter earnings are up 27 percent.

I think I’ll just go back to bed.  Too much messaging already.  (Just kidding, boss.  I’ll be in the office at 8:00 a.m.)

Internet sales tax issue grows

The Internet sales tax issue continues heating up, which is not surprising given that state budgets have been hit hard by the economic downtown.  The latest battle ground is North Carolina where Amazon.com has filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Department of Revenue seeking to prevent the state from getting the names of everyone who has made a purchase from Amazon.com since 1973.  This may just be the case that eventually determines whether sales taxes must be paid on Internet sales.  The stakes are huge for the states and Internet retailers, as well as a major interpretation of federal law.

The case is In re: Amazon.com LLC vs Kenneth R. Lay, Case No. 10-00664, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington.