What We Can Learn from Amazon's Self-Service CS Model

Say what you want about Amazon, but the ecommerce giant has figured out how to offer an excellent customer experience. From next-day Prime delivery to one-click ordering and “Dash” buttons, Amazon leads the way in frictionless shopping. 

A driving force behind these types of customer experiences is a self-described “obsession” with its customers. Over the years, this customer obsession has taken it from a start-up in a garage to the largest ecommerce company in the world. 

From the beginning, Bezos argued that Amazon wasn’t just a bookseller or retailer of consumer products. Instead, he contended that it was a technology company whose business was simplifying online transactions for consumers.

Today, that couldn’t be more true as Amazon continues to disrupt the tech, media, and telecommunication sectors. The retailer/tech giant is paving the way with innovations involving the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and the future of work.

What we can learn from Amazon’s CS approach

Amazon’s evolution reinforces the idea that customer-centricity depends on technology. For CX leaders, it’s particularly interesting to observe how Amazon puts its own tech and CX principles into practice, especially as it relates to customer service.

Amazon’s customer self-service portal, for example, can teach us a lot of valuable lessons about service design, UX simplicity, and which conversational tech to use in certain scenarios. Let’s take a look at a few key takeaways. 

More ‘intelligent’ technology isn’t always better

First, it’s important to understand that Amazon is a leader in conversational technology. They brought us Alexa, the voice assistant that now lives in more than a quarter of American households.

The company invests heavily in developing natural language technologies like natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), and natural language generation (NLG). 

Just last week, Amazon previewed a new Alexa capability that can synthesize a person’s voice from less than a minute of audio 😅. All of this is to say, Amazon has the technology and resources to create whatever conversational experiences it wants.

So, looking at Amazon’s self-service model, we can learn a lot from the technology it uses–and what technology it doesn’t use. Spoiler alert; there is no voice assistant waiting to answer your any and every question.

Amazon’s self-service portal is simple and straightforward. It clearly lays out potential customer use cases, getting customers routed to the right department with the click of a button. 

amazon customer service portal

Much of Amazon’s self-service CS model is button-based. It combines a graphic user interface with conversational support for better user experiences.

example of amazon customer service chatbot

Proactive support helps set expectations

Proactive support is a hot topic among CX leaders, so it’s no surprise to see Amazon putting it into action. In this example below, Amazon alerts customers of longer wait times and also anticipates what they are likely looking for.

amazon proactive customer service

Here, we see how Amazon tries to encourage customers to take the self-service route, instead of contacting the support team. Customers can check the status of their orders directly by clicking the link in the notification.

Chatbots are most useful when they're clear about what they can and can't do

Lastly, Amazon does a good job of encouraging people to use its chatbot, while still providing other ways to reach out. 

You can see from the example below that Amazon recommends that customers start chatting with them for immediate support. It highlights two of the main benefits of its chatbot: speed and asynchronous commmuncication. 

If the chatbot, or ‘messaging assistant,’ is unable to handle the request, it will connect the customer to a human agent. Alternatively, the customer can request a phone call. 

amazon chatbot and self service options

When chatting with Amazon’s chatbot, it’s clear what you can and can’t do. There are no open ended questions like “how can I help you.” Instead, there are clear guardrails for how the customer can proceed. 

Amazon does a good job of making it easy for customers to respond with quick replies. As a result, customers get to where they need to be much quicker.

Final thoughts

Great customer service is simple for customers. It’s transparent, starts with well-defined customer needs, and requires minimal effort.

Even though Amazon could build an AI chatbot that answers any question customers throw at it, that’s just not necessary. In fact, doing so would make things more complicated, not less.

Graphic user interfaces, combined with messaging support, is a winning combination that should not be underestimated. It’s clear from Amazon’s approach to CS that it is the best way to provide seamless experiences at scale.