Eight years of cheng and chi

Congratulations to Amazon, again: For the 8th straight year, they’ve led the Holiday E-retail Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by Forsee. Amid all the usual blather about the range of products they sell and how well their website works, the fundamental point got overlooked. Amazon’s competitors have had eight years (let that sink in for a second) to expand their range of products and fix any problems with their web sites, and still Amazon rules. And eight years for a scrappy new competitor to emerge.

In the spirit of spreading holiday cheer, I’ll give you my latest Amazon story. Yesterday, I got an e-mail from them announcing a series of big discounts on electronics, many of which were suspiciously suitable for my cool little Kindle Fire HD (which came as scheduled on Monday). But the catch was that each item would be available, and its price announced, during one- or -two hour time periods, and only limited quantities were available. One of the offerings was a Bluetooth rechargeable speaker, list price $69.00  So promptly at the appointed time, the site announced the price of the speaker as $44. I did a quick scan of the reviews (reasonably good) and then put in my order. With my normal Amazon Prime shipping, it was estimated (not guaranteed) for Saturday. I figured more likely Monday.

So, about 5 minutes ago, I get an e-mail announcing that it shipped early and will be here tomorrow.

Larry Freed, CEO of Foreee offered the standard platitudes:

“At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, its hard to imagine anyone else coming close,” added Freed. “Companies should emulate Amazon’s focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years.” PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1xHjz)

Ordinarily, though, you’d expect that after eight years on top, Amazon would be getting complacent and developing corporate atherosclerosis (see: Apple & Microsoft), and their competitors would be learning.  In the conventional sense of improving their operations, they probably are.  Somehow, Amazon keeps on raising what we expect, which is usually what you get when you “focus on the customer,” but then finds a way to do something special.

It’s truly an amazing achievement on their part.

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