BusinessWeek voted Amazon #1 in customer service for 2008. In this article, Jeff Bezos explains "the distinctions Amazon makes between customer experience and customer service. The latter is only when customers deal with Amazon employees—and Bezos wants that to be the exception rather than the rule."
A few weeks ago I blogged about the book The Best Service is No Service. One of the authors is a former Amazon manager. The book explains in detail Amazon's approach to customer experience--and how it reduces the need for customer service. Great read.
This is a funny thing. The fundamentals of customer experience and customer service are known by all (or could be, if people bothered to read and learn). But few companies are able and willing to execute. The reasons are rarely technical. It often has to do with managers who can't adapt, organizations that are silo'ed, departments that measure and reward the wrong thing. It's organizational, not technical. At this point, everyone has the same technology, so there's no silver bullet that will let companies beat their competition. It really comes down to execution of stuff that we already know how to do. Amazon mostly gets it right. A lot of companies could learn from Amazon.