Amazon replies

The other day I wrote about Amazon's lists, profiles, and so on. I'd sent off two enquiries (but on one form) to their 'contact us' service having previously trawled through the FAQs and not found my questions either posed or answered. Within about eight hours I got a response to both – but as two separate responses (one from a do-not-reply email and the other from a customer service person called Surya P).

The first response which was to my question: Can I have just one profile on Amazon rather than two (currently one personal one and the other an author one)? The answer is: "Unfortunately, it's not possible to link your profile page to your author central page. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this may cause".

The second response was to my question: Can my Listmania Organization Design list be made private while I work on it? I asked this because I do not want to put up a list that has only a handful of items. I want to spend time collecting and loading the items before I publish the list. The answer to this question was: "To make the wishlist private I have included the information below". That was ok, in that it gave me detailed information, but I had asked the question about Listmania and not about wishlists. So the information was of no value to me as one of the things I do know how to do is to make my wishlists private or public.

I had another go of sending of the Listmania question. This time putting Listmania in upper case letters and making the point that I was asking about LISTMANIA and not about wishlists. The answer to my question came back – again within about eight hours "I am sorry we are not able to make your Listmania List private".

What I enjoyed about these responses (or did I?) was that each of the three emails had, in the signature block, "We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company". So now I'm just wondering what the construction process is and how far they have got (or think they have got) with it. Meanwhile:

  • I have deleted off Listmania my Organization Design List Two (which currently has only one item). I've decided to construct it as a private wishlist and when it is complete there transfer it to the Listmania page.
  • On my personal profile page I have put a note saying "please see my author page for more information".

So I have managed a couple of workarounds.

At the same time I was conducting this Amazon exercise I was also reading a short piece in Baselinemag The Evolution of Organizational Process. In this the author observes that

"Despite a multidecade focus, business-technology processes in many companies are unmanaged, invisible and unmeasured. Consequently they are executed haphazardly and inconsistently. This results in delays, errors, low quality, and high overhead costs. …"

The reason suggested for this is:

"many processes cross an enterprise's internal and external boundaries as part of business networks and, therefore, they become the province of no one. … there are no single point-of-responsibility process owners."

It seems to me that Amazon's processes are in that category (although some I've experienced as superb for example their process for telling me the status of my order). I'm guessing that the patchiness of their customer service is because they are not looking across processes but rather within them – so the Listmania team is not learning from the wish list team, and the personal profile people are not aware that some of the profiles belong to people who are also authors because the author team is in insufficient communication with the personal profile team for whatever reason. To solve these types of issues and speed up the building of the Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company – some service portfolio thinking and related innovation is required.