Monday, November 16, 2015

What Google Can Learn from Amazon

Google are getting into retailing cell-phone service with Project Fi.

If you think about it, this is the first time Google has really gotten into retailing to the general public. Up to now, all of their services have been free to the consumer and paid for by business.

But it seems that, in their hubris, Google have decided to “wing it” in retail, rather than learning from the practices of people who've perfected it. Their first lesson is that the rules are different for a mom & pop store and a megacorp. In particular, where a small operation can often get away with an apology when they mess up; a megacorp can't.

The small operation gets away with an apology when a person in a genuine position of responsibility explains the extenuating circumstances and apologises to the customer with a modicum of sincerity. Even a bodega will usually make some kind of tangible gesture — a freebie, a sample, a discount, or something — by way of apology.

Logistically, a multi-billion dollar corporation cannot apologise in the same way, or the Board would have no time for anything but apologies. Consumers are also cynical of large corporations, and understand that the only meaningful way for a large corporation to express appreciation or contrition is with something of monetary value.

So a scripted pseudo-personal apology from a powerless support drone in Nevada is hollow and disingenuous, equivalent in sincerity to silently mouthing “I'm sorry” while giving the middle finger and winking.

The trick for a corporation is to give the disgruntled customer something that they value more highly than its cost to the company. Amazon understand this very well. They will give you a $5 or $10 credit or a month's free extension to your Prime subscription at the drop of a hat. You can't spend it anywhere else, you have to remain a customer to use it, they're guaranteed to get it back, they only pay cost for what you buy with it, and you'll probably buy something that you otherwise wouldn't that's worth more than the credit. Ultimately, it probably only costs them $1 to give you $5.

Google may be the Titans of Online Searching & Advertising, but they can still learn a thing or two from the Titans of Online Retail.

No comments:

Post a Comment