Webconsuls Blog

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Social Media: Improving the customer experience for everyone

Recently I received an Amazon.com gift certificate as a gift. I am an avid reader and an avid kindle reader so I am sure that is what my in-laws had in mind.

I have come to rely on Amazon.com for far more than just books. This particular transaction was representative of how social media is molding the customers' experience for the better and I feel compelled to share the story.

Once people were quite wary of ordering online. Giving their credit card information over the internet to people unseen seemed scary and just not wise. Years later I make most of my purchases online. What is not to love? You can order exactly what you want. There is no trip to the mall. No walking up and down the shopping center corridor looking for that store directory while hoping for one more chance to find the exact brand and model so you can go home.

First it starts with how I select my purchases. I am a review reader and a very specific shopper. I generally know exactly what I want and why I want it. I don't necessarily come up with these answers myself, but I have trusted experts, think of them as "authority sites".

I wanted to get a few items for the kitchen. For cooking and kitchen equipment my two top sources are Alton Brown and America's Test Kitchen. Alton Brown, of Good Eats and Iron Chef America fame, has won me over again and again with his creative and campy show "Good Eats". His advice and elementary scientific explanation of why things work fascinates me and turns the once mundane chore of cooking dinner into a fun and creative thing to do at the end of the day. His show "Good Eats" is a family favorite in our house. I frequent his website for quick recipes and tips. Alton is welcome at our house any day. Here he is with some Thanksgiving tips.




America's Test Kitchen is my other authority. They judiciously test equipment and recipes. They recommend good solid equipment and explain why they favor one model over another. I have their family cookbook and it is where I get all my "Mom answers".

So with "my authorities" suggesting what makes and models are the best purchases I take a cursory look at Amazons' online reviews and as long as I don't see any glaring descrepancies in the reviews I make my purchase.

Amazon follows up and makes sure your purchases arrive on time and there is a link so you can track the delivery right to your door. Not everything is actually purchased directly from Amazon as they are the dealer for other merchants and resellers.

This time my entire order arrived within days, except for the pie dish. I had specifically chosen this pie dish for its deep well, perfect for a really deep apple crisp. It turned out that I was not the only one eying this lovely deep pie dish from the reseller unbeatablesale.com as it was sold out. My account was never charged. A few days later I was asked to review my experience. I couldn't give the transaction 5 stars as I didn't receive my purchase. I did comment that the item was sold out and while I was disappointed it would certainly not prevent me from shopping there again.

A store representative emailed me as a result of my less than 5 star rating and offered a gift certificate to use in their online store worth twice the amount of my initial attempted purchase.

They listened to my review. They care about the ratings. They care about the rating because the ratings from social media are going to affect their future sales. I am going to shop their because it is convenient and I am heard. If I am not satisfied they are going to remedy the situation.

No hassles. No buyers remorse. I like it.

Social Media improving the customer experience.

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