Amazing or Amazon!?

Amazon is blind. It does not follow separate rules for different geographies or different products when it comes to customer service. This is what makes Amazon the best online e-commerce force, and this is what makes millions of loyal fans like myself.

I’ll elaborate with a couple of personal experiences on Amazon. This is intended to inspire some takeaways as in lessons on customer service, service recovery and user experience – for businesses. I hope it does not give ideas to people with questionable ethics to misuse Amazon’s genuinity.

#1 Broken Shipment

Few months ago, I had ordered a watch for my wife, from Amazon. Since it was not urgent, I chose to wait for one of my associates to travel from US to India, who could carry the shipment and hand it over. It was not before 7 weeks that someone traveled to India, so I got my package about 2 months after my order date.

On opening the package, I noticed a small crack on the surface of the watch. The source of the crack could be anything. It could be a manufacturing defect; or it could be mishandled by the seller/vendor; or mishandled by Amazon stock handling; or mishandled by my friend during his travel. There was no way to find out.

I chose to write Amazon about this. Their prompt response suggested that I return the product and they’ll send the replacement, even though the policy in such cases has a valid limit of 30 days. Amazon gave me a buffer of further 30 days…so a total of 90 days (after all I was writing to them after about 60 days of order date). Since I had no travel plans in the next month and neither did any of my colleagues/friends, I wrote them back saying, it’s not likely that I’ll be able to return this within 30 days, considering the heavy delivery charges if I choose to do a priority courier. I asked them to leave the matter as is, and thanked them for the prompt extension of the returning and replacement policy.

While I was feeling good and narrating to others on how maturely Amazon handles matters over the next few days, I received a letter from Amazon. The letter was apologetic, but full of pride and straightforwardness. Somewhere in the short letter, it read:

Under the circumstance (of you not able to return the goods), this is the best we can do.

In the envelope, there was a companion to the letter, in form of a 50$ voucher to be used for any shopping on Amazon!

#2 Dated Experience

2003 was perhaps my first order from Amazon, for delivery in India. I had ordered a couple of books on subjects related to my industry. Almost a decade later, I received a mail from Amazon, just a few weeks ago. The context of the mail was my books ordered in 2003. Their dialogue was:

By now, you would have finished reading the books you had ordered. You have an option of returning them for this price: XX

I was zapped! Not sure which part had me stunned more – their ever-scaling system database and intelligent algorithms, or their ingenious concept of allowing people to read and then return at a price (kind of recirculating library).

#3 Damage Replacement

After a long wait of resisting my temptation, boseI caved for one of the best assets a music lover can possess – The Bose Quiet Comfort (Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones)! I ordered it from Amazon. After it arrived, due to a momentary lapse on my part, the wire of the headphones got hurt. I contacted Amazon to check if I could just order the original wires (as it was my new-found knowledge that Bose headphones are a great example of modular craft and assembly). Amazon asked me to return the entire headphones, for a free replacement.

The beauty of this experience is that they did not wait for me to return the shipment; they simply sent over the replacement first. I’m sure even an unethical person in my place would return the goods by feeling the necessary guilt, thanks to Amazon’s gesture. Let’s not forget that the product in question comes from another great company, Bose, who’s also non-compromising when it comes to delivering superior customer service and user experience.

I have no idea who “consumed” the cost of the damaged wire, but the entire experience certainly had a “noise-cancelling” effect in this otherwise doubting world.

For those who’re wondering, I had sent the headphones, but I am certain that their replacement arrived before they must have received mine.

Being “Amazon” should be a Habit

While I am a delighted consumer of Amazon as a service platform, I also have absorbed their ground-level connect and philosophy of understanding and relating to the customers, 100% of the time. No exceptions. They don’t question your integrity. There’s another testimony of Amazon apart from so many users, by my friend Vishal, the owner of this blog in a separate article on Service Recovery.

Let’s learn and weave this into our professional lives. This habit is certainly worth going after!

Sachin Shah

Sachin Shah

Head of Operations at Thirdware Solution Limited.

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