Business Briefing

Amazon Hiring Big To Ensure Best Customer Experience

Amazon Hiring Big To Ensure Best Customer Experience
October 2, 2013 2:24PM

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Although the e-commerce giant's customer service record is impeccable, for many companies -- unlike Amazon -- "lean" and "cost reduction" are the key words. This can be risky business as it might initially save the company money but it could leave customers with unresolved issues after they've been through customer service.

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E-commerce giant Amazon is hiring -- and hiring big. The company is opening more than 70,000 full-time seasonal positions across its U.S. fulfillment centers this holiday season to meet an increase in customer demand.

Amazon's hiring plans mark a 40 percent rise over 2012's hiring plans. Economists are likely thrilled to see the news considering the e-tailer's 2012 moves.

Last year, Amazon converted thousands of seasonal employees into regular, full-time roles after the holidays. The company said it expects to do the same this year. On average, seasonal employees earn 94 percent of the starting wages of Amazon fulfillment center employees and are eligible for health care benefits.

Amazon Just Keeps Hiring

Since the start of the financial recession in September 2008, Amazon has added more than 40,000 jobs in the U.S. across all parts of the company.

"So far this year, we have converted more than 7,000 temporary employees in the U.S. into full-time, regular roles and we're looking forward to converting thousands more after this holiday season," said Dave Clark, Amazon's vice president of worldwide operations and customer service.

"Each year, seasonal jobs lead to thousands of long-term, full-time roles in our sites -- jobs that offer great pay, benefits starting on day one and the chance for employees to further their education through our Career Choice program," he said.

The Value of Contact Center Agents

Amazon is likely to offer strong training as its customer service reps are essentially brand ambassadors and key to e-commerce success. Too often at other companies, management fails to recognize the importance of contact center reps' function as brand ambassadors.

However, some industry players predict that is about to change, as more and more companies are realizing that the battle to win new customers and maintain existing customers is fought by contact center agents every day.

According to both Laura Bassett, director of Marketing and Customer Experience at Avaya, and Sarah Stealey Reed, content director at International Customer Manager Institute (ICMI), we will see a shift toward the contact center becoming much more of a customer experience and knowledge center, and playing an important role as "brand guardian."

"When customers finally contact the contact center it is because they literally have reached the end of the line," said Stealey Reed. "So, that interaction with the agent needs to be fantastic or this might very well be the last time you will ever hear from that customer again."

What Customers Want

Although Amazon's customer service record is impeccable, for many companies, "lean" and "cost reduction" have been key words during the financial crisis. The result has been a great focus on how each contact center agent can minimize the customer handling time.

According to Avaya's Bassett, this can be risky business, as it might initially save the company money, but it may leave the customer with unresolved issues after having been through customer service. The key takeaway is that although your company may save on handling time, your customer might be the one who is left with all the extra work, and that can create a very poor customer experience for your brand.

"What customers want right now is to be helped as fast and effectively as possible," Stealey Reed said. "So the agent needs to be effective, efficient and proficient about it. It is not about how long it takes the customer service agent afterwards, but about helping the customer as soon as possible."

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