Prime for Change?

What should Amazon do now?

Amazon has been raked over the coals by a Sunday newspaper for the second week running - putting working conditions in its delivery centres well and truly under the spotlight. Problems at the front-line is not a new story for Amazon, so what can one of the biggest brands in the world do to finally get past this?

When I think of Amazon this is what immediately comes to mind – world-class service, unbeatable choice, amazing technology, fantastic prices. There’s something lingering in the back of my mind about tax issues but I’m probably more bothered that 80% of my Christmas shopping is coming from my beloved Amazon Prime membership and will be delivered within 24hours.

There is however definitely some background noise about working conditions and after another round of fairly grim employee accounts of front-line working life at Amazon hitting the headlines, what should they really be doing about it?

A lot has been said about their operational process. Every disgruntled comment about GPS trackers, loo breaks being monitored and their absence policy I take with the pinch of salt they deserve. At the front-line the operation is King and every productivity process when taken out of context would sound like the work of evil – it isn’t, it’s how you manage an operation. But when you strip all of that back, it’s the emotional factors that can’t be ignored.

Amazon re-set the bar for mass consumer service standards. Their commitment to service is the go-to case study on how to do it brilliantly. For a brand as driven and obsessed with the customer experience how great would it be to focus this purpose on delivering the greatest employee experience too?

Titan brands like Amazon are ideally placed to build, lead and showcase what’s possible around employee experience. And as a business that really understands brand, this should extend beyond the front-line to include all agency and temp staff that are ultimately delivering the brand promise directly to the customer.

It takes more than one team to do this in any business. No single team is responsible for the end-to-end customer experience, and nor should it be the case when looking at engineering a world-class employee experience. And yet it often falls to HR to deal with something that really needs brand thinking, marketing skill, creativity and comms excellence all joined up with an insight led understanding of what really matters to people in their working environment.

With Christmas just around the corner I’d like to imagine the scenes at the Amazon fulfillment centres are right up there with the opening 10 minutes of Elf, or at the very least Santa hats and ‘Last Christmas’ belting out from every corner of the warehouse. And as the Amazon Treasure Truck rolls into town this week, filled with limited time offers and deals on wheels for customers, all delivered by ‘the delight team’, I really hope it makes its first stop where it’s most needed.