What started as a small-time online bookseller has transformed into the retail giant we know today: Amazon. While many have mixed feelings about the company and its values, there’s no doubt that Amazon’s story is one for the ages.
We might not feel like we’re walking into the CEO’s home when we shop with Amazon, but we know what we’ll get from the experience: convenience, reliable reviews, adequate customer service, easy returns, and speedy delivery. Amazon no longer must adapt to consumer behavior and demands. Instead, it shapes the market with “The Amazon Effect.” People now have certain expectations of buying online, even when working with small businesses.
Consumers think about the Amazon experience with every click and every buying decision. It’s up to business owners to adapt to these expectations if they want to survive. That’s not to say you must adopt Amazon’s business model or strive to be more like Jeff Bezos or Andy Jassy.
No, you just need to be more mindful of the service you provide to your Amazon-obsessed audience. Here are a few ways our ideal clients’ behavior has been molded and how we can continue to fit the bill.
When Amazon came into the market with two-day—now same day—delivery, they showed consumers they don’t need to wait around for weeks to get what they ordered. Instead, they can order an item just days (even hours) before they need it.
People adjusted their habits around this new way of life. They didn’t have to think about ordering outdoor furniture in winter because they could wait for the last frost and get their new setup in a few days. Need a kitchen appliance by the end of the week? No problem. New delivery estimates are offering a vague range of several weeks. Consumers know that it will come very soon when they buy something, and they know exactly what day to expect it.
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For business owners, this means our clients often expect results within a 24-hour window. Unfortunately, special events don’t work on the same timeline; small businesses don’t have the warehouses and workforces to fulfil such demands. Event businesses are about quality rather than quantity; it’s better to give several clients your best work than supply subpar results for many. Be patient with yourself and set intentional expectations with clients to ensure they share your patience.
To give a taste of the 24-hour experience, include touchpoints that engage clients even if the product isn’t ready. For example, you might not
have room on your calendar for the next couple of weeks; but sharing a link to schedule an appointment later on still gives people a feeling of instant gratification. Or, if your consultation isn’t until next week, send over a questionnaire for them to complete. Little wins matter, so try to give them smaller milestones along the way.
Amazon has made the delivery system so streamlined that we can track our packages up until the point they land on our doorstep. People don’t just want to know when it will come, but they want to know where their package is at any given point. Progress is addictive.
In a similar fashion, you likely have had clients who are constantly asking you for status updates. Amazon has trained them to want to always be in the loop. But, when you’re working on a months-long project like an event, these requests can become overwhelming.
While setting expectations upfront can help define the process, it also helps to implement a collaborative project management tool like Honeybook, Basecamp, or Asana. You can invite clients to these platforms so they can see checklists, timelines, and other important details without having to ask you every time they’re curious.
Do you ever buy anything online without reading the reviews first? I didn’t think so. Amazon’s review system has been replicated by countless online businesses, setting the standard for user-to-user feedback. Simply put, people trust other people more than they trust brands. A great review system will let the best products rise to the top, and consumers will be more confident clicking the purchase button.
To stand out from the noise, you need to build up your online reviews. For what it’s worth, Google shows up the highest in search listings (even above industry-specific sites, like The Knot and WeddingWire), so focus on gathering Google reviews if you can only focus on one place.
It’s a small business owner’s duty to keep their customers happy, and the best way to do that is to meet expectations and supply top-notch service. Consider what satisfies you as a consumer: Do you love it when you get a small token of appreciation with your purchase? Are you more inclined to write a review when there’s a discount offered? You can learn a lot about customer satisfaction by looking at your consumer habits. Pay close attention to how you can replicate your most appreciated customer service techniques.