When was the last time you received an unsolicited refund?

When was the last time you received an unsolicited refund?

With technology so ubiquitous now in our everyday life, it is sometimes hard to be surprised by what it can do. My latest experience with Amazon’s Video on Demand service pleasantly surprised me with what is possible in terms of better customer service.

Typically, determining customer satisfaction with a technology service occurs after the point of sale. For instance, I order a product or service online and receive an e-mail receipt which includes a feedback survey link which I can then choose to complete. This is in contrast to when I walk into a retail location and interact with the business owner, who can gauge my satisfaction and act accordingly during the entire sale process.

As I eluded to earlier, Amazon Video on Demand has taken the next step with what may be possible utilizing technology to ensure customer satisfaction from point of sale and during delivery. While watching The Crazies with my girlfriend, our video playback was repeatedly interrupted with time spent waiting for the video to buffer.* Our satisfaction with the Amazon Video on Demand service was less than spectacular. Imagine my surprise and indeed delight, when the next day I received an e-mail from Amazon apologizing for the poor playback quality of the movie I ordered along with a full refund! I had not contacted Amazon to complain; their back-end technology had flagged my experience as being potentially poor and they acted on that information to ensure they would continue to have my repeat business. The exact text of the e-mail was as follows:


We noticed that you experienced poor video playback while watching the following rental(s) on Amazon Video On Demand:

The Crazies

We’re sorry for the inconvenience and have issued you a refund for the following amount(s): $3.99

While Amazon Video On Demand transactions are typically not refundable, we are happy to make an exception in this case. This refund should be processed within the next 2 to 3 business days and will appear on your next billing statement for the same credit card used to purchase this item.

Please visit our troubleshooting page for tips on ways you can potentially improve your viewing experience: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html

We hope to see you again soon.

Amazon Video On Demand Team

Amazon not only refunded me the cost of the rental, but they included in the e-mail a link to explore ways to improve my connection quality and playback of their services. I suspect in years to come, other online service providers (if they are not already), will install similar technologies to track customer satisfaction automatically from initial purchase to completed delivery.

* I have been using Amazon’s Video on Demand service for over a year now and been very happy with both the quality and user friendly interface of their service. My experience here is based only on an isolated incident and I in no way mean to convey that Amazon’s Video on Demand product is of poor quality.

Rob Williams is a Business Analyst for the University of Northern Iowa

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