Amazon – they still don’t get it

Good post by Clay Shirky on the #amazonfail incident, and how the Twitter Mob rushed to judgement and got it wrong – and are now trying to justify their continued dislike of Amazon.

Which is all true, but it neglects the second and more important point – Amazon have done themselves no favors in how they’ve responded to this. If they’d got out in front of it as Dominos did,it wouldn’t have been a big thing. Truly just an embarrassing “glitch”.

But instead they gave out confusing messages from low-level operatives – no one took control, so the Twitterati made their own mind up. First mistake – they should have been all over this from the outset.

My colleague Dave Droar made the observation that they’re probably so internally focused they thought the thing to do was fix the bug in their systems; however the real problem wasn’t a minor bug in the display of books, it was out there in their customer base and their relationship with them.

How different would this have been if a few of the Amazon techies had come out on their blogs with detail on what happened, why, and how it was being fixed. Open the curtains, let some sunlight in, and show there’s nothing fear. An apology from someone senior, problem solved. Instead silence. There was one off-the-record chat but that’s it, which feels rather shallow – you’d expect more sources for that kind of stuff.

This is all the more crazy from a company that’s quite good at getting out there and being visible in the community – when things are going well!

Even now, there’s no one from Amazon out there talking at a senior level, engaging with the community. Twitter is still making the conversation.

I wonder why this is? – I can think of a few possible reasons:

  • Amazon’s leadership have failed – they either don’t understand it’s an issue or they haven’t got the guts to step up. Either way, heads should roll, because when the time came they weren’t up to the job.
  • The explanation we’re currently being given isn’t completely accurate and they’re trying to figure out some damage control. Ohhh dear. (I note a search for “Homosexuality” still doesn’t return sensible results – how long does this “glitch” take to fix?).
  • The company is just structurally unable to respond to this kind of issue. Maybe it isn’t joined up in the right way, maybe no one has the authority – who knows?
  • Despite being a child of The Internet, Amazon is firmly Big Business 1.0 and finds the whole thing bewildering. “We keep doing what we should do and nothing works – let’s just ignore them”.

That the Twitterati might have jumped to the wrong conclusion is regrettable. That Amazon left them to it is indefensible.

Amazon – we want to love you, we do. Please don’t be a case study in how not to do this. You’re currently being outclassed by a Pizza chain.

Update 1: fuel for the “It wasn’t really a glitch” fire.

Update 2: Good advice for what Amazon should have done (albeit from a company that would happily provide them with a service!).

One Comment on “Amazon – they still don’t get it”

  1. The contradictions are what keeps it going for me. Why did they initially state it was a policy, when they had full awareness of what was transpiring, now they say it’s a glitch when it is in the spotlight. Perhaps they didn’t intend this policy to be applied so broadly or be discovered and that was the glitch.

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