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.