Amazon's Automated System Ups Customer Service, Unveils Video Pilots

by , Apr 22, 2013, 5:33 PM
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What if an automated system on a brand's Web site noticed visitors had poor video playback when renting a movie and automatically generated an apology letter -- which in turn triggered a refund for the rental? Amazon does it.

CEO Jeff Bezos tells shareholders in an annual letter: "We build automated systems that look for occasions when we've provided a customer experience that isn't up to our standards, and those systems then proactively refund customers."

It's doesn't build on the traffic to merchant sites, but gives site visitors a better experience.  Rob Griffin, EVP and global director of product development at agency Havas Digital, has been watching Amazon closely as it quietly builds out a technology to benefit consumers, as well as create opportunities for advertisers. "They impress me immensely, the experience they have created," he said.

Amazon is clearly moving toward near frictionless commerce for digitally delivered content related to ebooks, videos, courses, movies, and music. All are monitored by technology systems that know whether the consumer receives the content without a hitch, as well as enjoyed the experience, according to Didit Founder Kevin Lee.

"Digital goods, services and content all have far higher margins than products," he said. "This differentiation will at least temporarily give Amazon a great lead against Google and Apple, raising the bar for consumers."

When Amazon reports Q1 earnings Thursday, Mark Mahaney, RBC Capital Market analyst, expects the company to report $15.9 billion in revenue, a tad below the 16.2 billion in consensus.

Amazon built a business on customer service. Video may become Amazon's next greatest asset through its Amazon Studios, the original film and series production arm of Amazon.com. On Friday, the company unveiled 14 original pilots through Amazon Studios for those in U.S., U.K. and Germany to watch free on Amazon.com. Viewers are asked to complete a survey when finished viewing to help determine the pilots that will be made into shows.

The Amazon Originals TV pilots from Amazon Studios were the most-watched TV shows across Amazon Instant Video over the weekend, making up eight out of the 10 most-streamed episodes across the video service.

Automation though voice technology will also bring returns. On Monday, Raymond James Analysts included news, unconfirmed by Online Media Daily, that Amazon acquired Evi, formally known as U.K.-based True Knowledge, for $26 million, which licensed the Nuance voice recognition technology that Apple also uses for Siri. He spoke last year through Skype to MediaPost Search Insider Summit attendees from the U.K.

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