As long-time readers know, I am a fierce advocate of studying what others do and then "stealing smart."
The true Internet pioneer—the guy absolutely worth stealing from—is Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. I became a customer early in the game and discovered s-m-o-o-t-h customer service. Or what I call CRM—customer relationship magic.
Bezos makes it easy to find products, makes it easy to order and treats customers as though we are gold (which we are!). When I first ordered a book from Amazon.com, I got an instant acknowledgment of the order. Soon after, Bezos would send me a disposition message—either the thing had been shipped (and here's how to track it) or there was an expected shipping date if it was not in stock and on order.
Back in 1997, Bezos introduced 1-Click order. See a book you like, click once and it's on its way to you. Wow!
However, this idea is not for stealing. On Sept. 28, 1999, Amazon.com received a business method patent for 1-Click; whereupon, it sued BarnesandNoble.com for patent infringement for its "Express Lane" one-click system. The courts upheld Bezos' claim on Dec. 13 of that year, totally screwing B&N out of a lot of Christmas business.
The 1-Click order system also set the table for Bezos' e-reader, the Kindle. I bought an early model and I love it!
In the June 18, 2009, issue of my Business Common Sense e-newsletter, I wrote up my experience as a Kindle owner and called Bezos the most important figure in book publishing since Gutenberg. I'll stand by that assessment. The rest—Nook, iPad, Sony Reader and others—are all knock-offs. "Imitation is the sincerest form of collective stupidity," said my late friend Bill Munro.
My Kindle Misbehaves
In June of this year I ordered "The First Tycoon," a biography of the great transportation gazillionaire, Commodore Vanderbilt. Without warning, my treasured Kindle went on the fritz. I would be reading along when suddenly the text would disappear and I would find myself in the contents page. This happened repeatedly. After resetting the system, this still occurred, so I contacted Amazon.com and discovered an incredible customer support system: the instant call-back.