On Tuesday, both my wife and I tried to get on Amazon.com from two separate computers. We had the same problem: We were both trying to pay for our purchases through Amazon’s One-Click Service, but the credit cards that were in Amazon’s system were past expiration. We were both unable to update our credit cards online. In both cases, Amazon allowed us to fill our shopping cart and check out. Shortly afterwards, Amazon’s e-mail system contacted each of us to advise us that our credit card was no longer valid.
I tried to go to the help page looking for a telephone number or some way to contact Amazon. Little did I know that Amazon had gotten rid of 800 numbers or any other way of directly contacting a human. Since there was no number, I filled out an e-mail form provided by the company. I tried again to get the system to allow me to enter a new credit card or edit my current one. Similarly, Pam could not change her card number, but she was given the opportunity to push eStara’s click-to-call customer service. Immediately a customer service rep called her, and she was able to solve her problem very quickly. According to an executive at eStara whom I spoke to today, it delivers a detailed profile of the customer to its customer service representative (including the context of the current online shopping session), which enables the rep to handle the customer expeditiously. Problem solved. My wife was a happy camper.
Meanwhile, Amazon responded to my request for help by saying “no results match your search for ‘how can I reach a customer service rep’ in Amazon.com Help.” It turns out, the eStara executive told me, that now the only way consumers can contact Amazon CS reps is through eStara, which handles calls that meet a certain series of rules. I obviously was a rule breaker, or perhaps my order was just too small.
So there it is. Two people unknowingly calling the same online retailer at about the same time from two different locations with a similar problem. One gets immediate satisfaction and the other struggles through Internet purgatory (which in fairness may be just a little better than voice mail hell). An important point here is that it’s not just about the call connection. Click-to-call customer service makes a great deal of sense, but what really makes it work is the information that is delivered behind the call that makes the customer service rep able to handle the problem. EStara does a great job providing that. Now if only Amazon would make this service more widely available.