An opportunity for Amazon to improve and get more customers?

Amazon is a great company

We all know or should know that when it comes to customer-centricity (as embodied by the products, the shopping experience, the useful recommendations, the helpful customer service…) Amazon is one of the greats.  And whilst Jeff Bezos is in charge I’d place my bets in favour of Amazon v Apple when it comes to continuing to be customer-centric given that Steve Jobs is no longer around.  So where is the opportunity to improve?  The Kindle.

The Kindle is a great product – we, the customers love it

When I read the reviews on Amazon for the Kindle, on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com,  I find that the majority of customers are delighted with their Kindle.  So what is it that I have to offer Amazon?  What is the opportunity that Amazon has to improve and get more customers?  Let me share a story with you.

This morning I was out shopping (looking for a new television – the wife and children want a new one!) and popped into one of the big chain retailers in the UK.  As I was making my way to the TVs I noticed an elderly gent (with an ear piece) looking at the 6″ Kindle retailing for £89.  Given that the stand from which I operate is that of being of service and contributing to a ‘world that works’ I stopped to be of service.  I shared with him that I had purchased that Kindle and was delighted with it.  He mentioned that he had the bigger Kindle that retails for £139 and was delighted with that.  I went on to share that I’d been surprised at how much I loved the Kindle given that I love the touch, feel and usability of the book in its physical form.   That is when the conversation became really interesting.

This old gentleman told me that he, his wife and friends read a lot of books.  They grew up with books and they are a great way to pass the time.  He and many of his friends had switched to the Kindle because as they are old it is easier to buy and read books via the Kindle.  How exactly?  His response: we don’t have to make our way to bookstores (not an easy thing to do when you are old), we don’t have to carry books home and we do not have to struggle to read the books.  My question: what is the difference with the Kindle that makes the book more readable for you?  His answer:  with the Kindle I can increase the font size so that I can easily read the book!

So where is the opening for Amazon to improve and get more customers?

Being inquisitive I asked this old gent if he was entirely satisfied with the Kindle?  No, was his answer.  I asked if all of his friends were using the Kindle?  No, was his answer.  My next question: why not?  Can you guess his response?  Put yourself in his shoes – what is it like to be old?  You are physically challenged: the eyes don’t work well, the ears don’t work that well, the hands don’t work that well….

Amazon you can design a Kindle specifically for older people.  They love the purchasing process and the ability to increase the font size is such a boon it helps make reading both possible and enjoyable.  Yet, the controls are not easy for the old folks to work – the old folks simply do not have the dexterity to use small, difficult to use, controls.  And you can make the screen bigger.  Why?  Because the old folks use big font sizes and with that get only so much text on the screen which in turn means that they have to use the controls more often to flick from one screen (‘page’) to the next.  This becomes tiring if your hands/fingers don’t work as well as they used to.

It is worth investigating given that there are more and more older people living longer and longer.  Intuition suggests that there is a sizeable customer segment here that is worth catering for especially as it is the older folks that have grown up within a culture of reading books.

Finally: how do you get access to what you don’t know that you don’t know about your customers?

By stepping out of the office and into the real world: deliberately being where you customers are, watching what they do, acting out of stance of being of service and learning from/about your customers, striking up conversations with customers…… Until this encounter with this old gent I had assumed that only the young and technically literate were buying and using the Kindle.  I had discounted the older folks.  And I had no idea that the key benefits of the Kindle for older folks were the shopping experience (instant) and the ability to increase the font size!  I didn’t know that I didn’t know because I am not old and these things have never entered into my conscious mind.

Posted on February 11, 2012, in Case Studies, Customer Experience, Customer Insight (inc VoC), Customer Service, Sales and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Fabulous post Maz

    We are always too busy to go an look

    James

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  2. Great post, Maz. I bought a Kindle for my mom for Christmas, and this was her issue, too. You are right on… the Kindle is so convenient for seniors, and, as you note, they can increase the size of the font for easier reading. But the controls were not made with them in mind. Hope Amazon takes note.

    Annette :-)

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    • Hello Annette

      You occur as a blessing in my world. I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your experience. As for Amazon, it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

      With my love
      Maz

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  3. Hi Maz,
    I love this story and shows us that we never have all of the answers. Some would call that our blind spot.

    Maybe they should hire some older ladies and gents for more insights. I’m pretty sure they would give them a unique perspective and are not an insignificant market group.

    Adrian

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    • Hello Adrian
      I find it interesting that you say “shows us that we never have all of the answers..”. I refer to this as the domain of “What We Don’t Know That We Don’t Know”. This is the domain of breakthroughs. Why? Because when we get access to this thin our view of the world alters fundamentally and ‘new possibilities’ spring up – possibilities that were simply out of your imagination before.

      How do you get access to that domain? By getting out your habitual world, your comfort zone and deliberately entering into new domains including ‘living the lives of your customers just as they live them’.

      All the best
      Maz

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  4. You are quite right Maz. I’ve had the same feedback from my mother who is doing well with a new Kindle from Christmas. Mobile phone producers should address this same opportunity – a clear device which enables large fonts, along with simple controls that are not too small for them to see or to operate.

    My personal Kindle frustration is not being able to pass a book on. When you have enjoyed a good book, you want to lend it to family or friends, but with Kindle all you can do is suggest that they go and buy it too.

    Sally

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    • Hello Sally

      Great to hear your voice once more, I hope that you are doing fabulously well. I look forward to the day we meet up again – I have not forgotten the trust you placed in me and the kindness you have shown me!

      Talking about mobile phones I know that Vodafone identified a subset of this issue and had a phone made for older people. This phone was designed only for voice and texting and had large keys to make it easier for older people to use the keys. I don’t think that anyone thought about eyesight and the need for larger fonts! So there is an opportunity and it is not likely to be taken. Why? That is not where the money is – the older citizens rarely use phones, they are the segment with the lowest ARPU (average revenue per user).

      Ah the issue with the Kindle. Interesting, I had not even thought of that. Why is that? Because I typically use and reuse my books. I rarely lend them out. Thank you for opeing up that vista to me.

      With my love
      Maz

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  1. Pingback: Reading Revolution « Losing A Person and Finding Myself

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