Learn the Ways of Apple and Amazon
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Learn the Ways of Apple and Amazon

Learn the Ways of Apple and Amazon

I believe that the purpose of technology for businesses is to improve the customer experience—to make it easy for customers to do business with you. Ninety-eight percent of companies, however, do the opposite. They use technology to avoid human contact and, in the process, frustrate customers who want to do business with them. When you use technology and add a personal touch, you will have a winning combination.

While most young people probably prefer to use technology rather than interact with an employee either by phone or in person, I would guess that most older people prefer communicating verbally. It stands to reason that when you combine technology with an option for personal communication, you will attract customers of all ages.

No companies do this better than Apple and Amazon, the two most successful companies in the world. They deliver what they promise, unlike Discover, which paid a whopping $14 million to air a commercial during Super Bowl that said customers can call the company and immediately be connected to a live person. That's simply not true; the company was advertising something that doesn't exist when doing business with Discover.

When I have an issue, either with my iPhone or Mac computer, I have the option of heading to an Apple store or contacting an employee by computer or phone. If I choose to do the latter, I don't have to make an appointment, get dressed, and drive to the store. I can simply call Apple at (800) 694-7466.

When I call that number, I'm not given a runaround and transferred from one employee to another. I explain my problem, and while I'm on the phone, they access the equipment that is causing me a problem and solve it within 10 to 15 minutes.

How does that exceptional service impact Apple's sales and profits? It sends both to great heights. During the past fiscal year, Apple had a net income of $97 billion on sales of $383.3 billion.

Amazon is a prime example of a company that does everything right. It uses technology to serve its millions of customers and combines that with exceptional personal service. Let me give you an example: A friend recently logged onto Amazon, found an item she liked, and put it in her cart. Amazon immediately recognized her interest and let her know that customers frequently returned that item. That alert saved her the time it would have taken her to make the purchase, wait for it to be delivered, and then return it.

Amazon also notifies customers when an item they have expressed interest in by hitting the "save for later" button has had a price reduction. When customers make a purchase, the company immediately acknowledges it and gives customers a delivery date. On the day of delivery, Amazon even sends a map that shows how many stops away the delivery is from the customer's home.

Customers can also get an immediate response—through the Amazon's website or by calling its 800 number—when they have questions. Amazon's technology and attention to customer service goes above and beyond.

Most CEOs want to see hard numbers before they make any decisions that will affect their company's bottom line. All they have to do is take a look at Amazon's numbers. Last year, its sales increased 12 percent to a whopping $764.8 billion. That's an increase of $60.8 billion in revenues.

Those figures are not only good for Amazon—they're good for investors. In May 2003, I invested $1,000 in the company. By February 11 of this year, that investment had grown to $111,648. The company's investment in technology, combined with its commitment to providing the best customer service possible, has produced great results for Amazon, its customers, and its investors. It's also reaped unbelievable financial rewards for its founder, Jeff Bezos, who is worth $192 billion.

Apple and Amazon use technology at every level to smooth the point of entry for their customers and quickly connect them with the items or service they need. They understand their customers' needs, know what their customers want, and design systems to meet—and exceed—their customers' expectations.

Apple and Amazon are two of the most valuable companies in the world. You would do well to study how they operate. Copy what they do, and your company will rise up the ranks.

John Tschohl is the founder and president of the Service Quality Institute—the global leader in customer service—with operations in more than 40 countries. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on all aspects of customer service and has developed 18 customer service training programs that are used by companies throughout the world. His monthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge at www.customer-service.com. He can also be reached on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Published: March 13th, 2024

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