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Here’s what it means when Jeff Bezos sends Amazon staff one of his ominous “question mark” emails

Emma Koehn /

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says one key thing he loves about his customers is that they are “divinely discontent”, so when it comes to customer feedback, it’s only fitting that he takes issues in the “complaints” inbox seriously.

Speaking at a leadership forum in Washington this week, the multibillionaire says he still maintains an Amazon email address — “jeff[at]amazon.com” — and receives feedback from customers about Amazon’s services. If he sees something that needs immediate action, Bezos forwards it onto the relevant department, with only a simple question mark in the email body.

“It’s shorthand [for] can you look into this? Why is this happening?” he said.

The manager on the receiving end of the question mark email must then “drop everything” and solve the customer’s issue as soon as possible, reporting back to the big boss, reports Business Insider.

Amazon is famous for its inventive approach to logistics and laser focus on accuracy, but Bezos says often when there is a problem, traditional data crunching doesn’t recognise it. Instead, it’s the stories from customers that will reveal the trend.

“The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. There’s something wrong with the way you are measuring it,” he said.

This commitment to customer engagement came days after Bezos delivered his annual letter to Amazon shareholders, where he cemented the company’s commitment to the highest standards across every single metric.

“We continue to aspire to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, and we recognise this to be no small or easy challenge,” he said.

NOW READ: Amazon’s warehouses are complete chaos, but its disorganisation speeds up delivery

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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