What Customer Experience Leaders Can Learn from Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods


When I look at the month of June’s customer experience highlights, I keep going back to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. I stumbled across this article in Money “5 Ways Amazon Will Change Whole Foods, According to CEO John Mackey.” At first blush, you might think this is a story about brick and mortar marrying ecommerce; technology mastering food delivery. But it’s really about customer service and technology innovation. This article doesn’t speculate on the big vision for this purchase or what industries will be disrupted, it does focus on what this acquisition means for consumers. Amazon and Whole Foods have a lot in common as far as vision and quality go but when it comes to the customer service, the two might be worlds apart. Amazon has a reputation for stellar customer service and Whole Foods has a reputation for being out of touch with many shoppers.

Amazon acquires Whole FoodsThe five ways that Whole Foods CEO, Mackey, see Amazon changing Whole Foods can almost be written as a step by step for other customer experience leaders looking to turn around their brand perception. From focusing more on the customer to being more technology driven to changing the culture, the recipe is right there. Read the full article at 5 Ways Amazon Will Change Whole Foods, According to CEO John Mackey

While Mackey doesn’t share exactly what they’ll be doing from a customer experience or technology perspective, being a part of both of those worlds, we believe the number one technology driver in 2017 for top notch customer service will come from the proper design and implementation of a customer service chatbot. Interactive Text Response (ITR), also known as chatbots provide a platform for brands to transform the customer experience while decreasing contact center costs.

Not everyone wants to communicate via a phone call or email. Many consumers prefer messaging platforms like SMS, Twitter or Facebook Messenger. This is especially true for outbound notifications including appointment reminders, payment notifications, and order status updates. These outbound communications are increasingly preferred by consumers to be delivered via SMS or messaging. With this channel, a consumer can look at the message at any time or place and respond when it is convenient for them.

The beauty of ITR is that it transforms one-way notifications into two-way conversations, where a customer can request a change in appointment, ask a question or request a call from a live agent. This wasn’t the case with previous channels where keeping the conversation going and the dialog intact was nearly impossible when switching channels or switching from self-service to agent-assisted.

Only time will tell what technology and customer experience enhancements that Amazon will no doubt bestow on Whole Foods. But with Amazon Alexa already a leader in the chatbot space, it isn’t farfetched to think a customer service chatbot might be involved. Customer service chatbots improve the customer experience by empowering customers to self-serve, at a fraction of the cost of agent-assisted service.