Dealing with Failure Amazon CEO Brian McBride V’s Skype CEO Tony Bates

Skype-delivered-purchaseThis morning, I received the email I have been looking out for, the one that was had ‘Sorry’ in it from Skype, alas, it was not the one saying ‘Sorry’ from Amazon.

To set the background to this article, I recently posted on the email received from Amazon’s CEO Brian McBride, where he could not muster an apology for the epic failure of the delivery part of Amazon during the two-or-so weeks of snow before Christmas.

It particularly annoyed me, as you (or I, specifically) would have expected the gent to realise that when you buy an item on-line, that the delivery of the order is also a key part of the order experience and if its going to let you down, then to communicate this and apologise up front.

But normal customers really don’t give a dam and want their items NOW.
Quote Reference

Where as Skype’s new CEO, Tony Bates, in a similar service delivery issue, where Skype got knocked out for a day or so, super-nodes software versions apparently, was right-upfront with a YouTube video, completely with a ‘hoody’ and apologised:

When you compare the email that Brian McBride sent to the video above, you know which one gets my vote.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

Now, here’s the spin. Amazon’s Brian McBride sent an email, which was pretty much pointless, where as Skype’s Tony Bates turned the service failure into a positive.

What do I mean by this? Simple, in the previous article I concluded this:

The inclusion of a say a £1.00 voucher would have been nice, free expedited shipping for non Amazon prime customers on an order to use in the new year would have been (here comes that bloody awful set of words) win-win for customer and company, by getting the customer to return to the site, to undo the previous possibly poor experience and get a bonus sale at the same time.

Now that is exactly what I just received from Skype!

Skype-accepted-voucherWell, a ‘buck’, but what Skype has done  is:

  1. Admitted fault and dealt with it, publicly.
  2. Bribed the consumers, with a service they can easily offset
  3. Sneaked in two coup’s, these are
    1. Buy giving a paid-for service offering away for free, this should add inventive to carry on using the paid for service
    2. As Skype made it a sign in option, then I am suspecting that there is going to be a decent percentage that will not reclaim it

Why is this there a secondary coup?

Now I’m not going to explore point A as ‘free’-as-a-service-or-product-starting-option here, essentially ‘it works’ for most, where as point B is worth exploring quickly, as Skype has leveraged the ‘offering the reward’, but made it a step the customer needs to make.

The secondary coup, is simple, it relies on the customer, I’m pretty sure there customers who not even be bothered to redeem it, but just by the emails deployment will be a win for Skype either way. Unlike Amazon with a useless email, gained nothing other than keeping the board happy.

Below is the email received, if you have not received a copy, noting I have removed the voucher code:


2 replies
  1. Peter Jones
    Peter Jones says:

    We have had very bad experiences with Amazon since Christmas. I ordered a camera using Amazon Prime so-called next day delivery on 3 Janaury, confident that i would receive it several days in advance of the 18th birthday party on 15 janaury for which it was needed. It was apparently sent Royal Mail First Class on 4 January. As of today, 12 January, it has still not arrived. I ranted at Amazon on the ‘phone today, having been told initially that they wouldn’t do anything about it until 13 janaury, and they eventually agreed to send a replacement today. I said that I did not want it to be sent Royal Mail aas i actually needed to receive it tomorrow. They said they would put a note on the order to his effect but couldn’t guarantee it as that was dealt with by the warehouse rather than so-called “customer service”. We shall see what happens, but if it doesn’t arrive tomorrow we will cancel the order and buy a camera from a physical shop. I am also still waiting for 2 CDs again ordered on Amazon Prime next day delivery qand supposedly sent on 7 Janaury Royal Mail and they haven/t arrived either. The combination of Amazon and Royal Mail seems to be quite hopeless at the moment.

    • Matthew Ogborne
      Matthew Ogborne says:

      Hi Peter,

      I’ve had a similar experience with Amazon Prime, the first order turned up via special delivery the next day, result. The second order was a nightmare, the delivery company said that they had tried to deliver on the Wednesday, which was utter bull as I was in all day and no card was left, on chasing the package up, the earliest redelivery option was Friday. Friday comes, no delivery… Amazon support while polite, was useless.

      I finally got the item on the following Monday, I’m normally a really polite person to delivery drivers, I have been one several times over the years, but the poor chap got an earful and to be fair, while he said it was not his area, he apologised and we ended up having a chat about the delivery company (remaining nameless for now).

      I’ve been meaning to blog this experience for a while now, I’ll dig out the support queries and post them shortly.

      While I did not take up the paid offer of Amazon Prime, as it was only being trailed on their one month offering for free and the experience above nailed its fate, I use Amazon every day, I am sat here looking at the fab printer I bought two days ago on Amazon and right up to Christmas eve, I had books arriving. With the iPad I received a few days back (see The Emotion. The Black Screen. The Pain. The Love. The iPad.), the kindle app for it is brilliant and my book buying/reading obsession is made so easy by the 1 click option.

      With regards to your comments and its relation to the original topic, unbelievable, as I was typing a reply to your comment, a delivery from Barnes & Noble arrives, yes it did come from the USA, but I did receive confirmation it was despatched on the 14 Dec 2010! Amazon as all internet/mail-order based companies need to be fully aware that the delivery company and services that they elect (and it is election, they CHOOSE whom they work with) represent a fair portion of the overall satisfaction for the order. So when it goes wrong, say sorry and try and resolve it.

      Sadly Brian McBride stood down a few days back due to ill health, his replacement (I have forgotten his name, sorry) should bring a new perspective to the company, I’m rooting that end user service is part of this.

      So while my personal opinion that Amazon Prime is poor and I’ll never part with £50 for what is basically patients while the goods are delivered , I still use Amazon almost everyday and I’m sorry to hear of your experiences.



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