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- During an executive meeting, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once called the VP of customer service out for extended hold times, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.”
- After VP Bill Price asserted that customers were waiting on the phones for less than a minute, Bezos tested it out for himself – and grew increasingly angry as the minutes ramped up.
- About 30 executives watched as Bezos put his stance on customer experience on display.
Jeff Bezos takes customer service seriously.
That’s the lesson former global VP of customer service Bill Price learned during a meeting of 30 Amazon executives years ago, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.”
When Bezos asked Price how long the telephone-support hold times were as sales were picking up during the holiday season, Price responded without proof that they were less than a minute, so Bezos set out to fact-check him.
“Really?” he said. “Let’s see.”
Bezos dialed Amazon’s 800 number on the room’s speakerphone, and all 30 executives waited out many brutal minutes of cheerful hold music. Bezos grew angrier, Price fumbled with his phone, and the others fidgeted until finally a representative answered and the CEO said “I’m just calling to check” and slammed the phone down.
It was around four and a half minutes before anyone responded, according to multiple people at the meeting who relayed the details to Stone, but “the wait seemed interminable.”
The nature of the meeting alone should have clued Price off: It was a daily occurrence during the holiday season, held for the sole purpose of reviewing company and customer issues, and it was called “the war room.” This was the very beginning of one of those meetings, and toward the end of Price’s career – the VP apparently resigned less than a year later.