In the 2013 Amazon Shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos spent time explaining the decision to pursue a customer-centric way in our business.
As regular readers of this letter will know, our energy at Amazon comes from the desire to impress customers rather than the zeal to best competitors. We don’t take a view on which of these approaches is more likely to maximize business success. There are pros and cons to both and many examples of highly successful competitor-focused companies. We do work to pay attention to competitors and be inspired by them, but it is a fact that the customer-centric way is at this point a defining element of our culture.
AWS has built a reputation over the years for the breadth and depth of our services and the pace of our innovation with 280 features released in 2013. One area we don’t spend a lot of time discussing is the significant investments we’ve made in building a World Class Customer Service and Technical Support function. These are the people working behind the scenes helping customers fully leverage all of AWS’s capabilities when running their infrastructure on AWS. We launched AWS Support in 2009 and since the launch the mission has remained constant: to help customers of all sizes and technical abilities to successfully utilize the products and features provided by AWS.
Customers are frequently surprised to hear we have a Support organization that not only helps customers via email, phone, chat or web cases, but also builds innovative software to deliver better customer experiences. In recent years, this team has released technology such as Support for Health Checks, AWS Trusted Advisor, Support API’s, Trusted Advisor API’s, and many more. One customer facing feature Jeff highlighted in the Shareholder letter was AWS Trusted Advisor which is a tool that our support organization built to move support from reactive help to proactive, preventative help.
I can keep going – Kindle Fire’s FreeTime, our customer service Andon Cord, Amazon MP3’s AutoRip – but will finish up with a very clear example of internally driven motivation: Amazon Web Services. In 2012,AWS announced 159 new features and services. We’ve reduced AWS prices 27 times since launching 7 years ago, added enterprise service support enhancements, and created innovative tools to help customers be more efficient. AWS Trusted Advisor monitors customer configurations, compares them to known best practices, and then notifies customers where opportunities exist to improve performance, enhance security, or save money. Yes, we are actively telling customers they’re paying us more than they need to. In the last 90 days, customers have saved millions of dollars through Trusted Advisor, and the service is only getting started. All of this progress comes in the context of AWS being the widely recognized leader in its area – a situation where you might worry that external motivation could fail. On the other hand, internal motivation – the drive to get the customer to say “Wow” – keeps the pace of innovation fast.
We’ve always focused on getting highly skilled support engineers with all hires requiring the same technical certification process (Tech Bar Raisers) as any of our developers building services. Over the years, we have scaled the AWS Support organization to meet customer need from a team with heavy Linux Sys Admin with strong Networking skills in one location to a large global team, located in 17 locations around the world with Windows Sys Admins, Networking Engineers, DBAs, Security Specialists, Developers, and many more specializations. In 2013, we spent a lot of time developing sophisticated internal tools that make supporting our customers more efficient including intelligent skills based case routing tools that provide in-depth technical information to engineers that help address customer needs. Our customers tell us that the service is 78% better than it was 3 years ago.
Our customers can feel confident that AWS will work every day to deliver World Class Support for our customers. I wanted to share a new video with you where our customers discuss this critical behind the scenes function in a little more detail. After watching, I believe that you will have a better perspective on our mission, our support options, and the benefits that our customers derive from their use of AWS Support: