Doing it the Amazon way: A Black Friday Customer Success Story?
While shopping in the Black Friday Sales this weekend for a new phone, I was reminded of why ‘sales’ over the years has developed a bad reputation. I am not a huge techie so I thought I’d better do some online research before I ventured into high street sales, not wanting to look like an ‘eejit’ as my Irish mum would say. I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for; the make, the model and roughly what sort of price I wanted to pay and discount I hoped to get.
Interestingly, recent research from the Sales Executive Council found that most consumers are 60% of the way around their decision-making cycle before they even talk to a salesperson. I definitely fell into this camp.
Feeling pretty good and excited about the prospect of buying a new phone, I headed off to the town centre with my young nine -year-old daughter, Molly, in tow.
As we walked into the first shop, we were pounced on in true Cato style (for those of you who remember the Pink Panther). My foot had hardly stepped over the threshold before an assistant was there beside me, not even giving me time to look at the phones they had. Before I knew it I was being guided to some top of the range handsets and ‘Black Friday Special Offers’, ‘Mega Christmas Deals’, they had on that would be ending shortly, and as such, ‘would be a shame to miss out on’.
What makes Amazon one of the industry leaders for Black Friday?
In our experience, working with sales and customer service operations across industries, from utilities to banking to business services, there’s always something to learn from Amazon and their focus on the customer, especially when it comes to Black Friday.
So, what makes Amazon such a valuable case study? Here are our key takeaways.
Start with the bigger picture: A downward turn for UK customer satisfaction and the rise of the ‘Black Friday’ trend.
The Institute of Customer Service has just revealed the results of the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index. It makes interesting reading. UK Customer Satisfaction scores have slipped for the fourth year in a row, and the number of customers who cited an “organisation not keeping its promise or commitment” as a key cause of their problem is at an all-time high of 18%. We’re facing a crisis of trust.
- Against this backdrop, each month, more than 197 million people around the world get on their devices and visit Amazon.com. That’s more than the entire population of Russia.
- According to Deloitte, 50% of this year’s holiday shoppers now say they prefer shopping online rather than the high street, only 36% saying the opposite.
- Yahoo Finance research claims that Cyber Monday sales are seen rising 19% from the prior year to $9.4 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Black Friday online sales are projected to rise 20.3% to $7.5 billion.
- And in 2018, Amazon’s share of the US ecommerce market hit 49%. That’s 5% of all retail spent across the entire country. To put things in perspective, it is more than Amazon’s top three competitors combined, with eBay coming in at 6.6%, Apple at 3.9% and Walmart at 3.7%.
Amazon is the industry leader in online Black Friday Sales, but how can the digital experience be replaced by, or compliment, the customer service side of things?
There’s no denying Amazon has driven standards across the globe, raised the bar and stretched our expectations of what great customer experience looks like. We’re looking at the new normal.
And yet. What if what we’re buying becomes a little more complex, or the need is little more ‘emotive’? Think of the burst water main, the unexpected bill, the emergency insurance claim. Imagine taking everything that Amazon has to offer and making it a little more… human.
Changing customer behaviour: 9 out of 10 consumers price-check a product on Amazon before even hitting the Black Friday Sales.
It’s clear, particularly in the fast-paced world of e-commerce, that what customers wanted 25 years ago is very different to what they want today. Just think about how different online shopping is now than it was when Amazon launched back in 1994!
Today’s customers are time-pressed (especially in the lead up to Christmas), have more choice, power and knowledge than ever before. They exist in a digital universe where they can, at the click of a mouse, become an expert in your product or service before they ever make contact with you.
Word of mouth has been replaced by word of mouse (clever). In just a few clicks you can find out what’s in, what’s out, who’s hot, who’s not and get the download on pretty much anything.
And it’s exactly what we do: 77% of us now check Trip Advisor before booking a holiday and 9 out of 10 consumers price check a product on Amazon, According to CNBC.
Even after finding a product on a competitor’s website, 90% of people will head to Amazon and search for the same product. If consumers, especially those who are Amazon Prime members, can find the product they are looking for on Amazon, they are much more likely to make a purchase there than with other online retailers.
However, this also means that, although technically better informed, customers are potentially overwhelmed by an ocean of information. It can mean they need more, not less, from the person they interact with.
What does this mean for your business?
So what, I hear you cry! Isn’t that just how it is? Don’t we need to move with the times and head down the technology route? Well yes…and no. Technology (DX) and communication will continue to change exponentially, yet there will still ultimately be a person at the consumer end.
In a recent landmark study from Korn Ferry on the future of work, 67% of CEOs believe technology will create greater value in 2023 than people – yet economic data shows that human capital (people, skills, knowledge) is in fact worth 2.33x more. Upshot being? The organisations that are going to thrive over the next decade are the ones that understand and invest in making the most of their most precious resource.
At Blue Sky we feel passionately that the difference, the secret sauce, is to improve your digital offering AND make conversations feel easy and human, hand in hand.
Because we know the one thing that hasn’t changed in all this is the person; the undeniable need for the human element.
The best Black Friday Deals aren’t doing to get your customers coming back for more; great customer service, will.
Think back to that memorable experience where all of your needs were met, you were listened to, it was easy and you had confidence in the person you were speaking to; in fact, you liked them. How do you feel about that brand?
We did a quick straw poll here at Blue Sky HQ on our own experiences of Amazon. Granted, it wasn’t a particularly scientific study, but the anecdotes seemed genuinely reflective of much of the qualitative feedback that Amazon receives.
Our view? That Amazon is overall ‘functional’ and ‘efficient’, yet at times ‘impersonal’.
Need to spread a little CX magic into your Black Friday Sales? 3 steps to Customer Success.
Some companies are doing ‘human’ brilliantly. These are the folk who triumph over adversity on a daily basis and make us feel good when we’re lucky enough to make contact with them.
Amazon offers a great template for getting the digital journey right, but you need to get both DX and CX journeys aligned. You can have the best digital offering ever, but if you have to break out and speak to a human, you expect a great human experience. Simple.
You can probably name some of these moments of brilliance from your own organisation; but moments aren’t enough.
The overall trend shows UK customer satisfaction is in decline. We need to shine a light on the brilliance and replicate it, celebrating the good, and together transforming what it means to sell and serve in the UK. We have all tasted exceptional customer service. The more you taste it the more you want it. And once you had it, you never want to go back.
Make it more human.
Dr Thomas de Zengotita, a media anthropologist and author of Mediated, believes that acknowledgement – our need for validation and empathy from others – is one of our most vital needs. All mammals want attention. Only human beings need acknowledgement, and this is fundamental to making us human.
At Blue Sky, we look for those moments of brilliance in an organisation. We take time to forensically analyse where those ‘positive deviant behaviours’ (as we call them) come from, and we work with you to replicate them across your organisation.
Here’s what you need to do to make that happen:
Clarity: Craft the right story to create a clear, compelling sense of purpose for your organisation.
Think of Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s ‘customer obsession’. Create clear narratives that carry values and spread the behaviours you want to see. Understand how to make positive, persuasive storytelling an everyday behaviour. It isn’t easy, but it’s the most powerful performance tool you have.
Climate: Connect people to create the climate where people change can thrive.
No learning programme is an island, nor does change happen in isolation. By harnessing human instincts, you can enable an agile, creative, trust-based climate ready to handle anything the future might bring. Because that’s something no-one can control conversation: Capture the behaviours that get results and spread them through great conversation.
Understand how to capture the performance of your over-achievers and replicate them across the organisation. That might mean aligning your DX and CX journeys so that they sit hand in hand. Spend time recognising what drives the right connection and it will transform your ability to get the right outcomes.
After all, you don’t have to be a global brand to achieve customer success.
Like to hear more? Drop us a line today.