Amazon may not have the best products or services, but it can still lead in customer service
If there's anything in need of "disruption" in the tech world, it's customer service.
Fortunately, companies are beginning to realize that just making cool or useful products is not enough. Samsung has added a new feature to its Chromebook 2 laptop that allows consumers to video chat with a customer service representative and seek help with their product problems.
But if there's any company that's really led this idea of, you know, caring about customers, it's Amazon. The company introduced a similar tool in 2013 with its Kindle Fire HDX tablet, and it's relied on the feature to make its product appeal to non-technical users ever since. (It's also built into the Fire Phone and other Amazon devices.)
Samsung's decision to build a customer service tool into one of its own products shows that Amazon has managed to do something right even while it's worked to anger authors, release a mediocre phone, and expand some of its experimental offerings into more and more markets: lead the technology industry with its famous commitment to resolving all its customers' issues.
It sometimes seems like there isn't much Amazon won't do to keep its customers happy. It's often willing to offer refunds for damaged goods, responsive when people complain about any shipping issues, and now its workers are just a tap away. The only way it could be more helpful would be if Jeff Bezos offered a free massage to everyone who strained themselves lifting a box.
That commitment has created a legion of loyal customers who shop Amazon's marketplace even if they could purchase an item from someone else. In return Amazon is able to use its customers against other companies to get whatever it wants -- a tactic it's leveraged quite a bit this year in an effort to make everyone from Hachette to Warner Bros. agree to terms better for its coffers.
Now it looks like other companies are starting to realize that caring for customers after they spend hundreds of dollars on their products might be a good idea, as the addition of this new feature to the Chromebook 2 shows. Amazon might not be able to lead in the tech space -- its Fire Phone is mediocre and its other products are nice but not revolutionary -- but it can make damned sure that consumers are going to keep coming back by treating them like, well, people.
It wouldn't be the worst lesson for the tech industry to learn. Hopefully other companies decide not to abuse that consumer goodwill to harm an industry as much as Amazon has this last year.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]