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Emotional intelligence prevails when system glitch surfaces at Amazon

A couple weeks back, I ordered two items on Amazon. When the delivery failed, I requested and immediately received a full refund. I re-ordered the items. Two days later, the “undeliverable” items showed up.

I likely could have kept quiet and gotten everything free. Instead, I called and explained the situation. At first, the rep suggested re-instituting the charge for the now-delivered items and cancelling the pending orders. That would have worked fine, except that the re-order cost of one item had dropped roughly $6. So, I asked for a corresponding credit on the difference.

Evidently, that threw the systems into a tizzy because the next thing I knew I was talking to someone seemingly higher up the totem pole. When I explained my desire for the $6 credit, she said there was no way to do that—so she gave me everything for free.

This prompts two thoughts:

1. Amazon once again confirmed its reputation as a truly customer-centric company. Now, they just need to concentrate more on emotionally intelligent policies for another customer base—their employees;

2. It seems ridiculous to refund 100% of a purchase versus subtracting a small amount to handle the different pricing.

All of this makes me wonder why Amazon isn’t equipped to handle these seemingly routine and, likely, frequent requests. Instead of making a relatively small adjustment to sync up everything, they’re absorbing the entire purchase cost. Perhaps it’s akin to their policy on smaller purchases. When someone wants to return an item for credit, Amazon sometimes tells them to keep it. Evidently, the cost of handling the return outweighs the value of getting the item(s) back.

A less customer-centric company probably would have not been as generous—either billing me the full amount or requesting a return of the “undeliverable” items for credit. Either of these offers would have been less emotionally intelligent.

In any event, there’s always the value of further building customer satisfaction, trust, and loyalty. Second to Costco, Amazon has my vote for emotionally intelligent customer service.

In the long run, as Amazon undoubtedly surmises, that will bring in many more dollars than would have been the case with a less  customer-centric service policy.

Given that Amazon’s customer service also is good for the bottom line, you’d think that many more companies would “see the light” to see better profits. Unfortunately, all too often, bean-counter tunnel vision seems to prevail—ultimately costing companies in ways that aren’t immediately apparent.

I continue to shake my head about shortsighted customer service policies that alienate and drive customers away instead of cementing their longevity. My personal solution is to do as much business as possible with companies that provide emotionally intelligent customer service, while avoiding the emotionally ignorant ones.

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A key tenet of successful customer service is the level of emotional intelligence or ignorance that prevails. This pervades all facets of customer service, but one where much improvement is needed is the written word. Especially now, amid major stress, anger, and frustration, corporate America could do itself proud by communicating positively and supportively. Instead, it appears often that the level of human angst also permeates the tone of written communications. Companies wanting to up their level of customer service need to look at toning down harsh communications.

Mark Lusky

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