The Everything Store

We rely on Amazon out here for a great many things, from tablecloths to appliances to whatever food our (single) local grocery store doesn't carry.  Bloomberg is running excerpts from a fascinating new book about this useful company and the surprising life story of its founder, Jeff Bezos, who recently bought the Washington Post and moonlights once a week on a company that's trying to establish affordable commercial space flight.

What keeps me coming back to Amazon?  I rarely shop for anything I can't find somewhere on its website.  They offer a year's reliable two-day shipping at a flat rate.  Their customer reviews are reliable.  They make it easy for me to check out, without any of the tiresome repetitive logging in or glitchy "shopping cart" pages that plague so many other e-tail sites.   In every way, they focus on pleasing customers.
Jeff Bezos has a public e-mail address,  Not only does he read many customer complaints, he forwards them to the relevant Amazon employees, with a one-character addition: a question mark. 
When Amazon employees get a Bezos question mark e-mail, they react as though they’ve discovered a ticking bomb.  They’ve typically got a few hours to solve whatever issue the CEO has flagged and prepare a thorough explanation for how it occurred, a response that will be reviewed by a succession of managers before the answer is presented to Bezos himself.  Such escalations, as these e-mails are known, are Bezos’s way of ensuring that the customer’s voice is constantly heard inside the company. 
Amazon employees live daily with these kinds of fire drills.  “Why are entire teams required to drop everything on a dime to respond to a question mark escalation?” an employee once asked at the company’s biannual meeting held at Seattle’s KeyArena, a basketball coliseum with more than 17,000 seats.  “Every anecdote from a customer matters,” Wilke replied.  “We research each of them because they tell us something about our processes. It’s an audit that is done for us by our customers.  We treat them as precious sources of information.”


DL Sly said...

I love Amazon! Have been a prime member since 05 and haven't regretted a single minute. Being a military family for all but the last year of that time, it's made Christmas and birthday ordering so very simple. Not to mention being able to find the things that simply couldn't be found locally. Not to mention it helps feed the VES' habit: books.

Gringo said...

Amazon is great for people living in rural areas. I live in an urban area, about 5 miles from a very good big box electronics store-not Best Buy. Their prices are competitive with Amazon, so I buy local. Also good to see something before I buy it. If I lived an hour or more from such a store, I would probably use Amazon more.

I have used Amazon for some books and for some music which I haven't been able to find elsewhere. Like most people, I have good things to say about Amazon's customer service.

While I have a Kindle, I much prefer my Nook, and use my Nook almost exclusively.