Think only retailers are competing with Amazon? Think again. Amazon is changing how customers feel – and what experience they expect – in every industry. Are you keeping up?
The evolution of customer expectations
We all know the story. Amazon started as an online bookstore, competing only against other book sellers. As the company grew and expanded its lines of business, other retailers from clothing to pet supplies began to feel the pressure. It didn’t take long before Amazon was crushing it in nearly all retail segments.
In consumers’ minds, something else was happening. Amazon’s customer experience began shaping the way consumers did business. Pretty soon, customers started to expect a similar experience from other online retailers and even brick and mortar shops.
Today, consumers are now beginning to measure their involvement with any business, retail or not, against the customer experience provided by Amazon.
Why should you care?
Whether your business model is B2B or B2C, there’s a good chance your customers have experienced the customer-centric approach of Amazon. If they haven’t, they’ve certainly heard about it.
Now your customer knows it’s possible for a business to keep track of their purchase history. They know it’s possible to complete an order quickly. And they know their orders can be tracked in real-time.
With these things in mind, your customer is now looking to your business for the same experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re a logistics company, a SaaS firm, or an insurance broker. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling a product or a service.
Your customers want – and now expect – the same convenience and accommodation provided to them by Amazon.
If you plan on keeping your customers, you have to keep up with their expectations — or at least manage them.
But there’s no way I can compete with Amazon!
No, you can’t compete with Amazon’s infrastructure. You can’t compete with their distribution.
But the good news is – unless you are Target or Macy’s – you don’t have to! Odds are, you are in a different industry and do not directly compete with Amazon. You just have to keep up with your customers’ expectations for a great experience – doing so will increase their loyalty to you and differentiate you from your competitors.
Consider how your business approaches the customer journey. Map it. Review it. Use VOC (Voice of Customer) to understand where your customers see your strengths, and what they view as most important to their experience.
VOC feedback should be the guidebook for improving your customer experience.
Here are a few examples of how other businesses have improved their customer experience:
- Deliver your product quickly and affordably
Not so long ago, 2-day shipping was an extremely expensive option most of us would never use. And free shipping? Sure, if we were willing to wait two or three weeks for delivery. But these days, Amazon has lowered our tolerance for high shipping costs and slow delivery.
Want to build customer loyalty? Get your product delivered as quickly and cheaply as possible. (Better yet, for free!) Even the most price-conscious shoppers are often willing to pay a little more if it means fast and economical delivery.
Swim Spray, which makes a spray that removes chlorine from skin and hair, just didn’t have the volume of orders to secure deep shipping discounts like Amazon. Instead of passing on higher shipping rates to their customers, Swim Spray leveraged the power of a fulfillment center. Now they have the advantage of a low, flat-rate shipping fee with three to four-day delivery speeds.
- Make your customer’s life easier
I know this sounds easy on paper — but it’s really hard to do right! Making your customer’s life easier isn’t a one-and-done proposition. It’s all the little things along the way.
Take for example Amazon’s one-click ordering feature. This process makes it a lot easier for customers to complete a purchase. Instead of typing out contact info, payment details, and shipping addresses, the customer simply clicks a button and the purchase is complete. One benefit here is that customers aren’t inconvenienced by entering a lot of repetitive information or filling out forms.
Lemonade Insurance, a home and renters insurance company, knew their customers wanted convenience – and that their competitors were behind the curve. Lemonade made their claims process as easy as possible. Customers can file claims online (a rarity in the insurance industry) and with the help of AI and automation, 25% of their claims are processed within 3 seconds. Yes, you read that right: 3 seconds.
Now take a look at your customer’s journey. Are you setting up roadblocks by asking for too much information or requiring your customer to fill out a bunch of forms? Get rid of any step in the process that’s not absolutely necessary. Automate as much as you can.
- Make your business available
I won’t bore you with statistics about the contact channels customers prefer to use. Suffice it to say, some customers like phones, some like email, while others like live chat. And they all want a choice.
Restaurant chain Chipotle, saw a disconnect when their customers wanted to order ahead. Some locations took orders by fax, some by phone, others not at all. So Chipotle implemented an omni-channel communication system, allowing customers to place orders online, through a mobile app, by phone, email, or fax.
Ensuring your customer-facing teams are available through a variety of contact channels is really a no-brainer nowadays. Don’t make your customer call if they’d rather send an email. Likewise, if your customer wants to call, be sure they can find your phone number.
Make it easy for your customer to reach out to you the way they want to.
How does your business stack up?
“Companies used to capture customers on their own terms. Now they have to address them on their terms. It’s no longer a transaction, but an experience,” said Irv Grossman, Executive Vice President Americas, CHAINalytics. [Source]
How does your customer experience stand up to Amazon’s level of service? Your competitors are already looking at Amazon’s model for ways to improve the customer journey. If you want to stay ahead of them, you should too.