A lot of people make a lot of money out of customer relationship management (CRM) but here is a real-life example of how customer service affects the relationship with the customer.

A few weeks ago I ordered a wireless USB card and a CD (Antics by Interpol) from Amazon. I received the normal ‘Your order has been dispatched’ email within 24 hours. I waited for 10 days but nothing turned up which was unusual because normally Amazon deliver pretty promptly (even with the SuperSaver option).

I know the package hasn’t been left on my doorstep in the pouring rain by the postman and subsequently stolen as I specified the delivery address as my place of work, specifically, to avoid this.

So I send Amazon a polite email informing them of the problem and asking what can be done.

Amazon replied promptly, helpfully confirming when the package was dispatched and that, unfortunately, there was no way of tracking the item.

Please note that we take full responsibility should any item become lost or damaged while being delivered, and we are more than happy to replace these items at a cost to ourselves. If your package does not arrive by September 23, 2005, please contact us to confirm that it has not been received and that your delivery address is correct for your order, so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.

Now what was interesting about this reply was:

  • Amazon actually read my email and answered my specific questions. It was not a standard form letter.
  • If, after waiting two weeks and checking the delivery address was correct, the package still did not turn up, Amazon were prepared to send me the goods free of charge for a second time.

Anyway, this story had a happy ending as the package was actually sitting in the post room at work and they had simply forgotten to inform me.

Now, after I made the initial order I discovered I could have got the identical wireless USB card off the shelf for the same price, without any delay in Tesco and I could have saved a whole three pounds (33%) on the CD (at CD-WOW!).

However this excellent customer service gives me a increased level of confidence of buying goods from Amazon. Could I be guaranteed the same response if another, more expensive package from another retailer went missing ?