What does Amazon know about customer experience that equipment OEM’s and equipment dealers
Back in my dealer days, around 2001 – 2002 timeframe, we rebuilt our company website and at the time had some creative ideas about increasing “time on site”, a buzzword and important KPI at the time, and still is. I was always keen to learn new standards and benchmarks for the equipment industry, so started studying and applying what Amazon was doing to recommend new products (books mostly at the time), to see what might apply to our dealer products and services.
During the technology research phase of how to build a recommendation engine for our other products
(new sales, used equipment, parts, service, rentals, and other seasonal or unique special, high margin
items), I decided it wasn’t feasible economically.
So, we built a “landing page redirect”, so every time someone completed a contact form, they were then
sent to a “Thanks for Visiting” page, with a static grid of product and service images, with embedded
links to our other items.
Wow! This doubled our “time on site” immediately, and helped build our annual qualified leads from
436 to 4800, increased our customer base by 5% year over year, and added a 27% increase to our
bottom line over that same period.
At the same time, we installed many new customer service focus items including customer survey forms,
advanced email marketing systems and customer segmentation that our Goldmine 6.7 enterprise
edition allowed us to use at the time, pushed leads out to flip phones to the reps by product and service
specialty, to each rep by region by zip code we programmed into our back end. It worked wonders back
then, and is still a massive opportunity today for OEM’s and dealers in terms of what the possible
processes are to improve your bottom lines.
Amazon Today & What We Can Learn From Them
This post isn’t intended to be a “how to” guide to develop what Amazon does, but more specifically to
give you a resource to aspire to when building a better customer experience for any group of customers.
You can Google anything today on Amazon and find entire bodies of work on their story.
Toward the end of the post, I include information on Amazon’s 2018 shareholder letter that is an
exceptional read on the customer experience. The main items that I believe are most applicable to OEM
and dealer strategy are the following areas:
- Recommendation Engines
- Customer Surveys & Reviews
- Email Promotions
- Rewards Programs
Today, there are simple to install solutions that didn’t exist even a year ago to recommend additional products based on a website visitors current and past behavior on your site. These can be customized to promote seasonal or high margin items, new product lines. If you Google “product recommendation engines” and see what comes up, you’ll get a wide range of answers, most having to with machine learning and AI, so you have to do some additional digging.
For a recommendation engine the equipment industry should take note of, I recommend 40Nuggets, an Israeli based company with a great product. A link to their site is here: www.40nuggets.com
Customer Surveys & Reviews
If you haven’t take the time to buy anything on Amazon, or book a reservation through Airbnb, you’re missing some great examples of tight, simple reviews and follow up processes. Software solutions for this are now commonly available and results can be easily sorted, managed and responded to in a manner that lets you stay on top of what your customers are saying.
If you Google “customer review software” you’ll get a lot of results, and many do essentially the same thing, but slightly differently. A good summary of top software companies can be found here: https://www.capterra.com/review-management-software/
Once you buy from Amazon, you get a series of emails tailored to your needs based on past purchases. For multi-line equipment dealers, this can be an effective method to consistently reach your customers, but hard to implement based on the customer/product segmentation required. Too-frequent and over- automation of the process is a turn off to anyone, so striking a good balance is key.
By now, every OEM and dealer is using some form of email promotion, but how tailored is it to the exact target audience? Are you sending the wrong message to the wrong audience? Amazon has this down to a science and is worth a study to make sure you’re doing all you can to promote your products and services as precisely as possible.
Most online retailers have rewards programs to encourage repeat purchases, and the results say they work! Take note of the TV commercials about bonus miles and points… what if you apply this same logic and process to your new and aftermarket sales opportunities? I know, I’ve heard it before… it’s hard to implement reward systems because our “system” doesn’t make it easy.
Bah! I’d say that’s an excuse. There are many ways to approach, develop, track and administer rewards programs, and software that can be integrated with your enterprise system with some creative configuration. Think outside the box on this one, the solutions are within easy reach today!
Amazon’s Letter to Shareholders
I love to look at industry leaders to discover new ways of thinking and doing business. The attachment and link is a great tune up on what other thought leaders are doing. A short summary of key takeaways:
- Customers are divinely discontent with a relentless appetite for a better way of doing business
- Are high standards intrinsic to employees, or teachable?
- Are you able to recognize what “good” looks like?
- Why writing 6 page meeting memos works
- Benefits of high standards
- Sharing of achievements and overall results
I’ve shared this letter with past clients and they really appreciate it, and I hope you do as well. I am a
huge believer in the upside our great equipment has on most levels of customer service, technology
solutions and ways to make a customer experience great!
Letter to Shareholders
Attachment and link
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