Chapter 3: The Powerful Impact of Customer Service in the Business World
“We've had three big ideas at Amazon that we've stuck with for 18 years, and they're the reason we're successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Customer service changes business dynamics. Companies give what clients ask for.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, states that it is important to plan your business around your clients in order to be successful. For more than a decade, Amazon has focused on their customers’ reactions and has continued to innovate. Thus, Amazon.com, Inc., is one of the most efficient businesses in customer service. It is a company that moves its structures depending on the clients’ desires.
In the past, customers encouraged the development of all kinds of businesses from artisans’ stalls to high-tech buildings. They transformed merchants into an independent and respected social class that we call today “entrepreneurs” or “businessmen.” We saw in the first chapter that commerce has existed since the ancient times. It was different back then because only the wealthy people had options when buying products like textiles or food. The vast majority of people bought only the necessary items, out of need and not for pleasure.
The powerful change in the business world started to happen when clients could reach out to more providers from different places around the globe and when the national income was increased. International reach and higher salaries happened because of important global events such as the development of technology and general human progress. With the invention of the telephone, for example, customers could communicate faster with providers of services; with higher salaries, more people could afford to purchase personal cars, and cars improved delivery services. This kind of progress also revolutionized employment lines – women had to work in different industries previously dominated by males. Furthermore, it reduced the boundaries between countries and cultures. Industries expanded and kept on growing. Then the Internet appeared. The business world boomed.
Today, more than 80% of businesses are represented on the internet. Banking, shopping, and entertainment – all of it happen online. The customer has evolved into a real critic of products and company cultures. The present-day buyer has access to international products; he can compare businesses, services, brands – everything that a company offers to the public eye. Most people, regardless of personal wealth and social status, have access to the internet and mobile phones, and thus have access to these companies. The market has expanded far beyond its previously established boundaries.
Customers have changed not only in behaviors but also in their perception of products and businesses. Whereas in the past, the consumer had little knowledge about products and services, today, consumers know everything about your business, especially what your business can and cannot offer them. The customer’s new demanding behavior and the global reach of the market therefore bring businesses a difficult challenge.
How can businesses satisfy the increasing demands of customers?
Marketing scholars have tried for decades to predict consumers’ needs. However, it is a fast-changing area, and businesses need to use a flexible structure that can receive the customer’s reactions. Some businesses, usually the large corporations, follow a strict package of golden rules for client service. Unfortunately, as we discussed in Chapter 2, those golden rules apply less and less to modern buyers. Before, the consumer was treated as an independent outsider that only required products. Today, the customer is an important collaborator in the management of a business. In the structure of a typical company, there are entire departments dedicated to collecting client insights and planning future business plans in accordance with the opinions of the customers.