Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos recently announced plans to one day deliver items directly to customers' doorsteps using automated flying drones. I'm at all not surprised by Amazon's move to make science fiction into fact. Bezos changed shopping forever when he launched Amazon.com, and he may again change the game by re-imagining ways to serve customers.
Amazon's "Prime Air" is designed for small, unmanned aerial vehicles to take packages directly off of the line at a fulfillment center, then use GPS technology to fly and drop packages at destinations within 10 miles of the center. It may shorten delivery times to 30 minutes. The service won't hit the skyways for a few years at best, and there are plenty of naysayers out there who complain that the idea will never work. Think of the airspace issues, the potential technical glitches, the privacy concerns, they say. While talking heads discuss all the reasons it won't work, Amazon knows that there's simply one reason it will work-—it takes the customer experience into the future.
Amazon is truly a customer-first company. It outlasted so many other e-commerce companies because superior customer experience and trustability are core to its business. It sits on the top of numerous customer loyalty and satisfaction lists, and its stock price has jumped from under $50 in 2009 to nearly $400 today. With ideas like Prime Air, Amazon researchers are looking beyond the status quo. Anything is possible for the future if you place customers at the center of business. Prime Air was conceived because Amazon knows that consumers are looking for immediacy in their interactions with companies. By leading with the customer point of view, future products and services will follow.
Amazon has an innovative R&D lab to help propel customer experiences ahead. The idea of an innovation lab has taken hold in a number of companies, two of which are profiled in this issue of the Customer Strategist journal. Other articles touch upon the lofty visions and hard realities that are part of planning for the customer experience of 2020 and beyond.
The future isn't as far off as you think, and you need to plan now for the holistic customer strategies, tactics, and technologies that will usher in the consumer-driven era of business. If aligned correctly across the business, the vision of the 2020 customer experience will easily come into focus.