Episode #22: The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Amazon Delivery

A missing package leads to a mostly-positive Amazon chat bot adventure… and a satisfied customer. It’s a modern customer experience, fueled by conversational commerce. And it’s something you need to be thinking about.

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Yeah, all right. Welcome to the CXM Experience. customer experience management… experience. Because experience is the new brand. So important we have twice in our title. And I haven’t once in mine, I’m the customer experience officer at Sprinklr. My name is Grad Conn.

Alright, so today I’m going to share an experience I had this morning. It was a really great experience from one of our favorite customers, Amazon. Also, many people’s favorite company. Great customer of Sprinklr’s. And I just want to walk through an amazing chatbot experience I had today. And then I’m going to flag a potential area for improvement, where I think that experience didn’t quite work. And then we’ll jam a bit from there and see what happens.

So I ordered an Instant Pot. About three weeks ago, and it has not arrived. And I’ve checked in a couple times and I got the “it’s been delayed or delivery’s been delayed, but we’re working on it.” So I wasn’t super worried about it and so I’ll see what happens. I’m in a bit of a new home situation in Florida right now. So need a bit more kitchen utensils and kitchen appliances. And the Instant Pot was going to be an important part of how we were going to get Thanksgiving dinner done.

And so I checked in today, because it kinda started getting close to Thanksgiving dinner, and really gonna need that Instant Pot. And saw this super fascinating message that I had not seen on Amazon before. I don’t know how often you’ve seen this. But I’ve never seen it before. So it goes, I’ll actually read it to you, it goes: “your package may be lost,” with a little picture of the Instant Pot. And then “we’re very sorry your delivery is so late.” Right, it’s like three weeks, two weeks, two and a half weeks late. “Although it may still arrive, you can request a refund now.” There’s a “contact us” button. Then there’s a ship with Amazon tracking ID. And then there’s a share your tracking stuff. But your package may be lost. I’ve never seen that before.

And so I saw “contact us” and I thought I don’t really want to do that. So I went back to my orders. And then I clicked on it. And I clicked on “get a refund,” right? I’ll just get the money back. What was interesting about this experience — and this is not good — is that the base platform wasn’t smart enough to know that the package may have been lost. So when you go to do the refund, it assumes you’ve received it already, and that you’re going to return it. And this not going to work because I don’t have anything to return, because I have not received it and, as Amazon noted to me, it may be lost. So that’s kind of weird.

And so, went back to the orders and clicked on the order again, and got back to the “your package may be lost” screen. And so I thought I’ll try “contact us” see what happens. So I clicked on “contact us.” And it was smart enough to then push up a screen saying “Do you want to talk to a person? Or do you want to do chat?” I said I’ll do chat. Then a chat bot introduced itself to me. It was very clear that it was a chat bot, which is great. And then it was very helpful. It brought up a device. He said, Is this the thing that you’re asking about? And it was the last item that I’d ordered, not the Instant Pot. But the last item that I ordered. So I said no. And it gave me choices, I could just click on the button and didn’t have to type it.

Then it said, well here are all your orders, scroll through and find the item and click on that. So I did, I scrolled through and clicked on it. A little bit nervous at this point. Because if it’s gonna ask me to return it, it’s gonna be really hard to do. I click on the on the Instant Pot. The chat bot comes back and says, while it may still arrive, we can give you a refund right now. So the chat bot was connected to the “it may have been lost message” whereas the platform was not. So I said I’ll just take a refund. And then it was boom, instantaneously your money has been refunded. I mean, that was to the original account. And the order has been cancelled. And then it did say hey, if it does arrive, you need to send it back to us. But you know, you’re good, your money’s back.

That was an amazing experience. It said Did I answer your questions? Was I helpful? Yes. Then it was done. I think the whole thing took less than a minute once I got into the chat bot stream. And then just as I started this podcast, like literally a few moments ago, I just got a text, and the text says refund issued, then what I paid for it, for your Instant Pot Duo Crisp pressure cooker, blah, blah, blah. And it’ll be in your account in three days… details here. So, kind of an enjoyable experience, I’ve never had an item completely lost by Amazon. And I’ve never had a return of a non-received item before. What was interesting was I couldn’t do it in the main platform, but the chat bot was great.

And I think there is a move, and I’m starting to do this more, I’m starting to use chat bots more and more, versus trying to find the information or trying to call someone. And there’s this move to this concept of conversational commerce. And this move to essentially work around the complexity of the websites to get to an end result really quickly. I’m an extremely satisfied Amazon customer right now. And I’m generally a very, very satisfied Amazon customer. Actually I’m generally an extremely satisfied Amazon customer, I love Amazon, okay. But I’m actually even more satisfied than normal here, which is pretty amazing. Because I feel like they were able to very quickly help me solve something that could be a very sticky problem. Which was I ordered something, it didn’t arrive, I can’t return it. But I really like my money back because it’s pretty expensive, right?

And so I’ve seen this happen around and it makes me think a lot about where we’re going with marketing automation and marketing flows. And just generally how we’re selling to people. There has been an ideology, which is still somewhat dominant, that what we want people to do is conduct activities on our websites. We’ll score them, we’ll call them a marketing qualified lead. And we’ll pass them on to sales. More and more of my peers and more and more myself, I’m beginning to think that that is a bankrupt ideology.

People really want to get the thing they want, and they want to get it quick. And if I’m going to a B2B website, or I’m going to B2C website, do I really need to wade through all these static pages. And this is where… we talked about this a short while ago, which is this contrast between the static web and the conversation web. And the static web was created pretty much around the broadcast concepts of the 20th century. Because it was the first version of the web, it was built like a magazine, it was built like a newspaper, built like a billboard, like all those analogies that we had back in the late 20th century. And to a certain extent, websites are still very much like that.

But if you look at what’s evolved over the last 20 years, from Friendster to Instagram and Snap today, what you see is people moving to networked conversations. But businesses have not. People have moved to networked conversations, and people are making a lot of actual decisions in those networks. But most businesses are still using a website and forcing people through a gauntlet of activities and… give me your email address, and I’ll maybe send you something of value, that kind of idea. That, I think, is a really old fashioned way of thinking.

Whereas if I go to a site, and I want something, why don’t I just talk to either a chat bot or a person on chat, just right then. Hey, this is what I’m looking for. And make that chat bot smart enough and capable enough to be able to get me there quickly. The features of that Amazon chat bot that really stood out were it was able to inline — in the chat –put all my orders. I was able to scroll very rapidly through the orders in the chat… in the chat, and click on the one that was applicable to that situation. Then, the chat bot was smart enough to see what the problem with that particular order was. I didn’t have to say what my problem was. It immediately went, Oh, we lost this one. Bummer. Okay, they’re probably going to want their money back. And then put that right out there really quickly. And I just dealt with it fast. And so it was extremely intelligent, but also very satisfying and much more rapid than me trying to go through FAQ pages and put down reasons and get printouts and send things back. This is way, way more convenient.

And so as I think about how I want to buy in the future. And why when I buy do I have to scroll through catalogs? Why do I have to scroll through colors? Why do I have to… there’s a shoe I wanted the other day and I I found the color I wanted. Great. I clicked on it and didn’t have my size. So then I had to go back and pick another color and they didn’t have my size in that one. Then I had to go back and pick another color and they didn’t have my size and that one, it’s like oh yay. Are they getting paid by the click or something? Like what is going on here?

Why couldn’t I have just gone to that site and said I really want a pair of orange Birkenstocks? They go what size are you? 10. We don’t have any. All right. But we have green, we have blue, we have yellow. Oh, okay, I’ll take yellow. Great. You know, when would you like from sent… here’s the addresses we have on file for you. Bing, bang, and I’m out of there in less than a minute with the order done.

I think there’s something to this conversational commerce that people haven’t even begun to explore it yet. And particularly, I think, in B2B, when people get to these B2B sites, which are deep and complex, they’re typically already decided that they want to include that vendor as part of their selection process. So why force them through a bunch of random information? Why not just have a person sitting there saying Hi, nice to see you. How can I help? What would you like to know? I’ll give it to you right now. We’ll get you started and get you on your way. For the CXM Experience, this is Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.