Monday, November 7, 2016

Amazon Prime Delivers - on customer service!

I love being the recipient of excellent customer service - it almost makes me want to dance my way across the street!

image credit - flickr philipp rein

Last month Amazon.com gave me another example of turning a failure into a "keep the customer happy" moment. (much like my recent experiences with In n Out and Slidebelts.)

Here's the story.

My family signed up for Amazon Prime this year. Some people have compared the pros & cons of Prime; I'm not here to tell you whether this is something you should do as well, but for us it's been great.

One of our favorite benefits of Amazon Prime is their guaranteed free, 2-day delivery on almost every item available. This makes it easy to shop for smaller items, as I don't have to compare the total price including shipping, and I don't have to wait until I have a need for extra items in order to qualify for free shipping. When we need something, we order it. And it shows up at our house a couple days later.

Except when it doesn't.

Last month I ordered a small item - a 2-pack of refrigerator air filters for about $10. (The same 2-pack sells for $23 on the manufacturer's website.) I completed my order, and the order status said my package would arrive on that Thursday - 2 days later.

Thursday came, but my package did not. Then came Friday, followed by Saturday, and still no package. On Saturday I emailed Amazon's customer service department to inquire about it, and here was their reply:

Hello Chris,
I've reviewed your comments and I'm sorry to know that you didn't receive your package by the estimated delivery date. This usually doesn't happen. Let me help you on this regard.
I've checked the carrier tracking details and see that your package is delayed by them due to arrival at incorrect carrier facility.
We're aware that our choice of delivery services reflects on our business as a whole, rest assured that I've forwarded this issue to the Shipping department in our company so that problems like this will be accounted for and avoided in the future.
On this occasion, to help you with this, I've personally contacted the USPS with reference to your tracking number 93748896720900xxxx and provided them with the special instructions to deliver this package to you at the earliest.
Further, in case, if you want to contact the carrier from your end then please find the contact number below to directly reach out to the carriers. Here are the details:
Email: customer: USPS® Customer Service
Phone Number: 1-800-222-1811, 1-800-ASK-USPS® (1-800-275-8777)
To help compensate for any inconvenience, I've extended your Amazon Prime membership by one month. The membership will now renew on (extended renewal date here.)
Thanks for your patience and cooperation in this regard. We look forward to seeing you soon.
We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.
Best regards,
Ameya
(Emphasis mine. Also, I removed a couple paragraphs which weren't pertinent to save space.) 

That's quite a response.

  • First they are quick to say it was their shipping partner's fault, but then they follow that right up by acknowledging that their choice of a shipping partner reflects on them.
  • Next they offer to reach out to the shipping partner directly on my behalf, and they provide contact information so I can do the same.
  • Finally they offer to give me a free month of Amazon Prime by extending my membership renewal date, which is the equivalent of about $8 and change.

Then came part 2.

Three days later, when my package still hadn't arrived, they followed up and asked if I would like to continue to wait for my package or if I would prefer they process a full refund.

I decided to have them refund my purchase. I then re-ordered the same product.

This time it showed up two days later, as expected.

Summary

Amazon is a gigantic company, while I am one small buyer purchasing a $10 item.

And yet, when something didn't go as promised, Amazon immediately took responsibility for the error, gave me something of value to compensate me for any problems, and reached out to the post office directly on my behalf.

They then proceeded to follow up a few days later to give me the option of cancelling my order and refunding my money.

Amazon's quick actions removed any doubts I may have had about ordering online. (not that I had had any before - but now I have extra confidence they'll step up to the plate if necessary.)

I would have likely renewed by Prime subscription even without this extra customer service, but now there's no question. And if I had been on the fence about it, this may have been the difference of keeping me in the fold.

Multiply $99 per year times a few million happy customers, and you're talking about quite a revenue stream. I'm glad to see Amazon understands this.

- Chris Butterworth

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