Can we call Amazon a 'customer-centric' company?

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When it comes to deciding if Amazon is truly customer-centric, can we reconcile Amazon's great service experiences with its aggressive customer data collection and expansion?

At Amazon’s very early stage, circa year 2000, they began to implement “The best service is no (need for) service” strategy. It’s a great business strategy and has proven successful. Since then, ‘fast and easy’ or effortless has remained their brand promise besides low prices.

Years ago, I ordered 12 books on Amazon.com and had it delivered via sea shipment to Hong Kong. Upon receiving only 11 books, however, I emailed them. Without a single question, they couriered the missing book to me the next day by FedEx.

I believe a lot of customers share similarly amazing experiences. It’s difficult to find competitors who rival Amazon on ‘fast and easy’. They continue to deliver ‘all pleasure, zero pain’ experiences with the cheapest prices. They are customer-centric, aren’t they?

However, “Amazon is customer-centric” is valid only if we ignore the (potential) negative impacts brought by their unequalled technological power and aggressive expansion across multiple business domains: collecting our BIG Data and becoming a BIG Brother, and turning into monopolies in various industries. They would become too rich, too powerful and too big to fall. Are these not the critical concerns of any customer with a conscience?

Yes, many companies are collecting our BIG Data. Nonetheless, Amazon is a supergiant. There are merely a few players in the same league, e.g. Facebook, Google, who have comparable capabilities to develop into our BIG Brothers.

“Amazon is customer-centric” is valid only if we ignore the (potential) negative impacts brought by their unequalled technological power and aggressive expansion across multiple business domains.

In particular, with Amazon’s well-known mission to be the “Earth’s most customer-centric company”, it is natural and reasonable for customers to expect that every important thing that Amazon does will align with their company mission.

What’s more, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously proclaimed that they always reserve “An empty chair for the customer” in all their meeting rooms to listen to and invent for the customer. There is no excuse for Amazon to miss hearing and understanding the above critical concerns of customers.

Would Amazon proactively and genuinely do anything to address those critical concerns? I doubt it. Don’t get me wrong – I would not fault Amazon for that. After all, there is no free lunch. The price customers have to pay in order to enjoy the unprecedented convenience and instant joy could potentially be strikingly expensive.

If the critical concerns of customers for Amazon becoming a BIG Brother and “too big to fall” are unaddressed, should we attribute Amazon’s huge success to the fact that they have been delivering a branded experience, i.e. deliver their brand promises – fast, easy, cheap, and “The best service is no service” – repeatedly and consistently to such a superb level that no rivals can match, rather than customer-centricity?

Is Amazon a customer-centric company? I would love to hear your thoughts.

About Sampson Lee

Sampson Lee, founder of Global CEM and creator of PIG Strategy

Sampson Lee boldly proclaimed that conventional CX is just service-in-disguise and untiringly preaches Real CX. Sampson invented the Branded CEM Method that was first licensed in Belgium and the Netherlands. Lee founded the world's 1st CX certification which has run CX workshops in 19 international cities and certified business executives from world reputable companies across six continents. Register for the next CX workshop >

Hong Kong CX workshop: March 28-29

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