What Led to Amazon Being a Household Name

These days, Amazon is practically a household name. Of course, they haven’t always been at the top of the game. In fact, it took a lot of hard work and customer care to get to where they are now. Among companies today, Amazon is arguably the leader in continuously raising the bar. In 2013, the company released its Mayday button for the Kindle Fire HDX tablet. The single-click support solution allows tablet owners to access an Amazon customer service representative via webcam. Within fifteen seconds, an Amazon representative shows up on-screen to solve problems in a responsive fashion with a simple touch of a button.

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Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer–Amazon

Hall of Fame Class of 2011–Amazon

A real symbol of near instant gratification, the existence of Amazon means that we can buy pretty much anything we want, at any time of the day or night, with just a single click. What’s more, Amazon can have it at our doorstep practically overnight. They have truly revolutionized the way consumers purchase both wants (books, movies, the latest gizmo) and necessities (toilet paper, deodorant) – as if we needed more of an incentive!


Started by Jeff Bezos in 1994 as a humble online bookstore, with a small branch for DVDs and CDs, Amazon very quickly grew. Soon, they began to offer downloadable content and expanded into everything from toys to clothing to electronics. More recently with the advent of the Kindle and “online TV”, Amazon is now also the world’s largest content marketplace, as well as the largest provider of Cloud infrastructure.  


Essentially, if you can’t buy it at Amazon, it probably isn’t for sale. And because just about everyone loves and uses Amazon, they’ve come up with a way to make their best customers really happy. Amazon does this through their Amazon prime membership, which for a small fee offers users a way to get absolutely ANYTHING that they order on Amazon to their doorstep within two days. This really taps into our human need for instant gratification. Amazon also has a clearly spelled out return policy and have a history of handling customer service issues quickly and without fuss, which is what really secures their place in the Purple Goldfish Hall of Fame.


There’s a lot to be said for a company that can get you just about anything and ship it to you within a couple of days. That being said, Amazon also has some great qualities as an organization. Initiatives like building wind farms and partnering with education providers in Africa to bring opportunities for literacy and access to books to underserved areas are just a few of their better known ones. Did I mention the robots? Amazon’s warehouse automation is amongst the most advanced in the world and has to see seen to be believed!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Did I get your curious about the Amazon robots? Find out exactly what I’m talking about in the video below.

Amazing Technological Advances Part IV

The series continues! There have been some amazing technological advances over the last sixty years. Today, we take a look at some of the biggest tech advances since 1995.

1995 – Google begins as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Both are Ph.D. students at Stanford University.

1999 – Kevin Ashton coins the term “the Internet of Things” (IoT) while working at Auto-ID Labs.Oracle executive Marc Benioff invites three friends to his San Francisco apartment. His business idea gets a lukewarm response. Cofounder Dave Moellenhoff doesn’t sugarcoat it, “You’re an idiot. That’s the stupidest thing. This is never going to work.” The group presses forward and launches Salesforce, one of the first enterprise cloud software services in the world. The company pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple website.

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Amazing Technological Advances Part III

Today offers us a lot of technology. Of course, before today’s tech existed, there were an awful lot of technological advances that had to be made. Here are some of the more prominent ones from the last forty years.

1983 – Motorola releases its first commercial mobile phone, known as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. The handset offered 30 minutes of talk-time, six hours standby, and could store 30 phone numbers. It cost nearly $4,000.10

1989 – Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, invents the World Wide Web. The Web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automatic information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world. The first website at CERN – was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer. The website described the basic features of the Web; how to access other people’s documents and how to set up your own server.

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Four of Five Customers Demand Improved Response Times from Companies

kindle-fire-hdx-7In our on-demand world, customers expect companies to respond to their needs. According to research by IBM, four out of five customers demand improved response time from businesses they frequent. Consumers no longer judge you in comparison to the competition, they are holding you up to the bar set during their latest experience.

Mayday, Mayday

Among companies today, Amazon is arguably the leader in continuously raising the bar. In 2013, the company released its Mayday button for the Kindle Fire HDX tablet. The single-click support solution allows tablet owners to access an Amazon customer service representative via webcam. Within fifteen seconds, an Amazon representative shows up on-screen to solve problems in a responsive fashion with a simple touch of a button.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says it’s, “actually very similar to having someone standing next to you.” In addition to the live video, Mayday call reps can draw lines and shapes on the user’s screen in order to provide visual instruction, telling the user which buttons to press or which menu to open. They can even control the tablet directly if the owner has enabled the feature.

According to TechCrunch, Amazon “built a full infrastructure to support it at their HQ in Seattle and, on board, the hardware. By compressing the video signals, they are able to send more data to the devices from tech support and allow tech support to see the data remotely.”

Providing tech support isn’t an easy proposition for both the company and the customer. The Mayday system helps both parties. Customers get better customer service while Amazon reduces the costly number of unnecessary phone calls. It’s convenient too. Mayday is online 24 hours a day, every day of the year, with a live representative available at any time.

The feature has been a huge hit with consumers. Among tablet owners, 75 percent of customer service interactions now come via the button. Amazon has now extended the service to its Fire phone.

Why did this work so well? It’s because Amazon is responding to its customers at the exact time of need. It’s leveraging technology to cure little problems before they become big thorny ones. The average time it takes for the representative to pop up on the screen is under ten seconds.

A couple of FAQ’s on Amazon’s website tell the story of how Amazon is focusing on leveraging technology as a Blue Goldfish to set themselves apart from the competition:

Is this your attempt to compensate for not having a genius bar? No. This is a completely new approach to tech support: you get your own personal tech advisor from the comfort of your home or office.

This seems like a weird thing to invest so much time and money into? We strive to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and this is just one more way we are working to achieve that goal.

Earth’s most customer-centric company has set the bar on responsiveness. As with all expectations, you can’t meet them. You can either exceed them or fall short.

The choice is yours.

Ready to Move Your Business Forward?
A great first step is downloading a sample chapter from Blue Goldfish. Based on over 300 examples, Blue Goldfish explains how successful companies use technology, data, and analytics to drive customer loyalty and advocacy. Sign up for a account today and receive a Free Sample Chapter of Blue Goldfish.

Editor’s Note: This post is an excerpt from Blue Goldfish: Using Technology, Data, and Analytics to Drive Both Profits and Prophets.

Seven fearless CX Predictions for 2014

casey stengel predictions

Predictions for 2014:

Baseball legend Casey Stengel once said, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” It’s strong advice for today’s unpredictable climate. Yet we enjoy prognosticating, especially at the end of the year. So, here are my seven fearless predictions for customer experience in 2014:

applebees tablets on tables#1. Technology for Dinner: Look for tablets and kiosks to change the experience of dining out. Both with ordering our meals and how we ask for the check. U.S. based chain Applebee’s leads the way. They will be installing 100,000 tablets in 2014. The early results have been eye opening: happier customers, quicker turns, higher average checks and bigger tips. What’s not to like? The universal sign for “bring the check” now includes a swipe and tap of your finger. (See related post:

Youtility book#2. Youtility: Look for the disciplines of customer experience and content marketing to intertwine in 2014. Jay Baer’s book Youtility advocates for companies to create marketing that customers want. Selling more by selling less. Helping customers with useful information or tools with no expectation of return. Companies will be more proactive as givers in the coming year. Don’t look now, but marketing will be trying to find ways to improve the customer experience. (See related post:

easy button#3. Easy Does It: The metric CES (Customer Effort Score) will continue to gain traction in 2014. Look for a CES version 3.0 and for a greater emphasis on the ease of doing business throughout the entire experience. Based on research by McKinsey, consumers don’t view their overall experience by touchpoints (i.e. an interaction with customer service), they do so across the entire journey. (See related post:

#4. Beyond M&M’s: The basics of customer experience are measurement and mapping. Both are smart first steps and if done correctly, they can be highly instructive. Look for most firms to get beyond the basics of Discovery and into CX Design. (See related post:

what's your golden goldfish cover#5. Don’t Treat Everyone the Same, Treat Everyone Fairly: There will be an increased understanding and focus on key customers in 2014. Why? Because in most businesses, 20% of customers drive 80% of profitability. All customers are truly not created equal. Look for companies to listen and be proactive with their “Vital Few” more often. (See related post:

#6. Faster Pussycat: Speed is a differentiator in online retail and customer experience. It’s already happening in China. In six major markets, the online retailer Jing Dong is offering 3-hour delivery. Not to be outdone, My Taxi from Germany is pioneering one-hour delivery. Don’t underestimate Bezos, Amazon is currently working on Drones. (See related post:

#7. Small is going to be the New Big: Microinteractions will be a trend in 2014. Microinteractions are small moments that can make or break an experience. According to Jeannie Walters of 360Connext, “They don’t’ show up in reports, so unless you’re walking in your customers shoes, you’ll miss what can lead to big problems.” (See related post:

Today’s Lagniappe (one more thrown in for good measure) – Becoming Certifiable: CCXP is not the misspelling of the former Soviet Union. It’s the new certification that’s going to be introduced in 2014. The CXPA is offering a certification. Want the academic route? The Center for Services Leadership at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is offering a Certificate in Customer Experience. Here is Parrish Arturi providing the reasoning behind the new CCXP certification with Jim Rembach:

Celebrating #CXDay on October 1st


October 1st, 2013 is the first CX Day, a global celebration of companies and people that are creating great experiences for customers. Go to for a schedule of events.

One of the highlights is a webinar with Dan Hesse, the CEO of Sprint:

Webinar: Customer Experience from the C-Suite, Discussion with Dan Hesse
11:00 a.m. ET/ 8:00 a.m. PT/ 3:00 p.m. GMT
Tune in for a free webinar with CXPA Chairman Bruce Temkin and Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Corporation and discussion about customer experience. Sprint has used customer experience as a key driver to its competitive resurgence. The webinar will focus on the CEO’s role in leading a customer experience transformational journey. Register to attend>>

There is also a number of posts from some of the top thought leaders in the field:

Topic 1: The Value of Customer Experience

Topic 2: Building a Customer-Centric Culture

Topic 3: Customer Experience Design & Innovation

Have a great first CX Day. Here’s to putting employees and customers at the heart of everything you do.

cx day lagniappeToday’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – I have the honor of participating in a CXPA Google Hangout today with Jeannie Walters and Jim Rembach to talk about Employee Engagement. In addition to promote CX Day, I’ve made both of my books free today for download on amazon. You can download, Purple Goldfish (Customer Experience) or Green Goldfish (Employee Engagement) today until midnight PST.

I am also doing a webinar on the Green Goldfish tomorrow with Voiance at 1 p.m. EST. It’s entitled, Driving Employee Engagement: 15 Keys to a World Class Culture. Register Here.

Here’s an overview of What’s Your Purple Goldfish:

There’s NO such thing as meeting customer expectations; you either exceed them or you lose

33 voices stan phelps

I recently had the chance to sit down with Moe Abdou of 33 Voices. Here’s a quote from Moe reflecting on our conversation:

One of the guiding principles in life for me has always been to add more value than I receive.  This philosophy has served me well both personally and professionally; and has been especially reassuring when forging new relationships.  Since the beginning, our singular focus at 33voices has been to contribute to the success and wellbeing of entrepreneurs. 

We do that by identifying recurring gaps in knowledge and experience, filling them with the unique perspective that only the world’s most progressive thinkers can provide.  One such thought leader is Stan Phelps, who reminded me that there’s no such thing as meeting customer expectations; you either exceed them or you lose.”

What's Your Purple Goldfish eBookToday’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – In honor of being on 33 Voices and trying to always add more value, I’ve made the eBook for Purple Goldfish free today (7/29/13) on Amazon by clicking here.  You don’t need a  Kindle. You can access the book on your desktop, tablet or smart phone using the Kindle Reader app. Does the concept of the Purple Goldfish apply to your business? Here’s a preview of the book on Slideshare:

12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth

Are you giving your customers something to talk, tweet or post to Facebook about?

The late Ted Levitt once said,

The search for meaningful distinction is central to the marketing effort. If marketing is about anything, it is about achieving customer-getting distinction by differentiating what you do and how you operate.”

Differentiation is key. We all must ask ourselves, “How do we avoid being a commodity and stand out in a sea of sameness?”

I believe maximizing the customer experience is key to the future of marketing. Marketing should no longer be just about chasing the eyes and ears of prospects. The paradigm needs to shift and should start with focusing on the experience to reach the heart of current customers. Take care of the bird in hand instead of the 2,000 in the bush.

what's your purple goldfishThe premise of What’s Your Purple Goldfish is that there are a dozen ways to exceed customer expectations by GLUE (giving little unexpected extras).

Here are the 12 Ways to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth based on Value and Maintenance:

Value (the what of customer experience)

  • What are tangible and intangible benefits that your service or product provides?
  • Does your product or service go ‘above and beyond’ to exceed customer expectations?
  • Are you giving that little unexpected extra to ’surprise and delight’ your customer?

Maintenance (the how of customer experience)

  • What is the buying experience like for your customer?
  • Do you make things turnkey or simple for your customer?
  • Are you responsive to problems / issues for your customer?


#1. Throw-ins (value) – little extras that are included with your product or service.  They help you stand out from the herd:

Southwest Airlines – ‘Bags Fly Free’ and no change fees on Southwest.southwest change fees

#2. In the Bag / Out of the Box (value) – little unexpected things that are added as a surprise.

Maggiano’s – order a pasta dish and Maggiano’s will pack an additional one up for you to take home on the house.maggiano's pasta

#3. Sampling (value) – give your customer an ‘additional’ taste by offering a free ’something extra’ on the house.

Bigelow Tea – order a box of tea from Bigelow and you’ll be treated to a sample of another flavor on the house. Bigelow Tea

#4. First & Last Impressions (value) – you have two chances to make an impression.  When your customer comes through the door and right before they walk out, hang up or log off. These little extras make you memorable and more importantly ‘talkable’.

Hard Rock – When you check in the Hard Rock will let you sample a Gibson guitar.  Check in, plug-in and rock out.hard rock check in and rock out

#5. Guarantees (value)  – giving your customers that ‘little extra’ pledge that you’ll stand behind your product or service.

LL Bean – Leon Leonwood backs his product . . . for a lifetime.

ll bean guarantee

#6. Pay it Forward (value) – give a ‘little extra’ back to the community.

Plaza Cleaners – if you are out of work and need a suit cleaned for an interview, Plaza will clean it for free.plaza cleaners

#7. Follow-up call (maintenance) – make the ‘little extra’ follow up with your customer.

Rite Aid follows up with a call to check on a patient.

rite aid

#8. Added Service (maintenance) – the ‘little extra’ that’s an added unexpected service.

Safelite repair or replaces your glass, but they also vacuum your car and clean your windows.safelite repair

#9. Convenience (maintenance) – what ‘little extra’ can you add to make things easier for your customers.

Amazon – Frustration free packaging that’s hassle free and good for the frustration free packagin

#10. Waiting (maintenance) – all customers hate to wait.  If its inevitable, how can you do a ‘little extra’ to make it more bearable.

Pacific Cafe – while you wait for your table, enjoy a glass of wine on the house. pacific cafe san francisco

#11. Special Needs (maintenance) – acknowledging that some customers have needs that require special attention.

Rainforest Cafe – the restaurant caters to the needs of customer by doing a ‘little extra’ for those with food allergies. rainforest cafe

#12. Handling Mistakes (maintenance) – admitting that your wrong and doing the ‘little extra’ above & beyond to make it more than right.

Nurse Next Door – this nursing agency in Canada takes the idea of ‘humble pie’ literally by delivering a pie when they make a mistake. nurse next door

Final Thought: Why is word of mouth so important? It’s vital because all customers are not created equal. Customers gained by referral are upwards of 4x as valuable than customers acquired through traditional means. Customer who walk through the door via word of mouth have on average twice the lifetime value and will refer on average twice as many future customers. Going the extra mile for current customers isn’t just about caring, it’s about building your business. Peter Shankman recently nailed this concept, “Take care of the customers you have . . . and they’ll bring you the customers you want.”

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a slideshare if you are interested in learning more about the book:

What’s Your Green Goldfish featured on The Engaging Brand podcast

Here is a conversation with Anna Farmery on The Engaging Brand podcast. It’s Episode 428. Anna talks each week with some of best and brightest in marketing (and me). For example, last week was Guy Kawasaki talking about APE on Episode #427.
Click below to have a listen:
engaging brand podcast green goldfish
The podcast covers the following:
  • What is your green goldfish?
  • Is it always about giving something extra?
  • Doesn’t an extra…..become expected?
  • Do you have to change culture to encourage employee engagement?
  • The importance of transparency for business management.
  • How employee engagement is not a substitute for great product
  • Is it about what you do or how you create employee recognition?
  • Employee engagement examples which cost nothing….
  • How employees don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.
  • How the return on investment is the same for small employee recognition as the large, costly initiatives
  • How 2 out of 3 employees are disengaged with their business.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s a special link to download WYGG. The eBook will be free on Amazon from April 1st to April 5th. Click the image below to download:

What's Your Green Goldfish Amazon