Amazon.com Is Not Awesome

amazon sadI am reading this book by Scott Stratten The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome which is about the things companies can do to be awesome. It includes ideas about customer service and social media among other things. It’s all good stuff and I would highly recommend the book.

I had an experience today that really bummed me out and led me to believe that Amazon.com, a company I have admired and thought highly of, is not awesome at all in Scott Statten terms.

Very unexpectedly my third generation Kindle went dead. I would not turn on or do anything at all. I tried all the tricks on the Internet I could find to no avail. I use my Kindle a lot and in fact I was in the middle of reading Scott’s book when it went dead. So I called Amazon who informed me that I could get a free replacement. That’s great, but I asked if was possible to get for a replacement the more recent Kindle model as mine is a generation behind even though they still technically sell it. The gentleman on the phone said no, he could not do that. Actually, I think he was feeding me a stock line out of a manual because he repeated it word for word when I asked if it really wasn’t possible. I even offered to pay the difference in price between my model and the newer one. He went off the line to check again and came back with the same, exact stock line. One of the things that bugged me was just that. He did not sympathize with me or offer a better explanation as to why it couldn’t be done. He just gave me the line. So I agreed of course but left the whole experience feeling dejected.

I’m a pretty good Amazon customer. I have owned three Kindles and a Kindle Fire. I have purchased many books and several movies through Amazon. But even if I were not much of a customer, Amazon passed on an opportunity to be awesome and really cement a customer relationship. This is what The Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesome is all about. Allowing me to get the newer Kindle would have made me so delighted. Woud it have cost them something? Sure but how much is a completely delighted customer worth? Hell, I even offered to pay the difference in cost. Now how much is a completely delighted customer worth that you didn’t have to spend a penny on? Now the agent I was talking to is using some kind of return/exchange system I am sure and I am sure the system only allows him to do certain things. Herein lies lesson one. If your systems and procedures are designed in such a way as to disallow an employee or manager to do something awesome for a customer, that’s one strike against you. Be that as it may, I still have a hard time believing it would be impossible to fulfill my request. I didn’t even get the feeling the agent even really wanted to. Even that, a small amount of empathy and an “I’m really sorry about that” would have been better than what I got.

I preach so hard about doing things to humanize your business. This was a company acting like a company. Follow the procedures, read from the script. You see, doing business in the Connected Age is more than just Twitter and Facebook. Those are just tools. We’re talking about a paradigm shift of attitude and culture. I’m still an Amazon customer but I am not as excited about giving them my money anymore. I don’t feel like a raving fan. In fact, I am looking at getting a Nexus 7 tablet and maybe I’ll start getting books from the Google store even though Kindle software runs on the Nexus. How many dollars will Amazon lose from my book purchases over the next year? I’ll bet it’s more than it woud cost them to give me the upgrade.