Interview with Chuck Ames (UX manager with Amazon Business)

"Innovation is one of the greatest gifts that humans have"

Internet R&D Interviews


October 2019.    Reading time: 3 minutes

With a customer base of around 30 million people, Amazon has become a benchmark in terms of innovation and customer loyalty. What is its secret? One of the people behind it is Amazon Business UX Manager, Chuck Ames, who gives us an insight into the reasons behind the company's success, he also shares with us his passion for design and his dedication to the customer.

Click to view video

Interview with Chuck Ames, UX Manager for Amazon Business.

At Amazon, design and the points of view provided by UX (User Experience) define the birth of any product. Chuck Ames, UX Manager with Amazon Business, has two decades of experience behind him and, in addition, he is an expert in team building and leadership. Armed with this, he attended the Digital Summit organised by the Iberdrola group and shared some of the secrets that have made Amazon one of the most innovative companies in the world. For him, the first one is to consider what the customer's problem is - how the current solutions are failing and how the new product is going to fix everything; and the second is in teamwork.

Where is digital innovation taking us? Do you think it will help us to solve the challenges that we are facing now on our planet?

I am an optimistic. Innovation is how we're going to get past this thing that we're doing now and get to the next level. Innovation is one of the greatest gifts that humans have. It's the ability to change the course of the future rather than letting things just happen to us.

Why is UX so important in today's companies?

Really, what UX is trying to do is solve problems for customers, to help them to achieve what they need to achieve. UX is all about the customer and going back to the customer and looking at that whole complete journey of what they're doing. By doing so you can create a better world for that customer, even if it's just a very brief moment of delight, because something was just a little bit easier. That's what UX is all about. That's what we strive for every day.

What are the key principles of UX for Amazon Business?

Different parts of the company are going to have their own mantra, based on who their customer is. Therefore, for Amazon Business, for example, it's familiarity, efficiency, smart and delightful. So, these are the types of things that we want our business customers to experience. Maybe, on another project, they might be fast, fluid and beautiful. So you need to really determine — you and your team — what your goal is and what principles align with that goal.

Really, what UX is trying to do is solve problems for customers, to help them to achieve what they need to achieve

How are Amazon Business procedures tailored to their customers (B2B) compared with those of Amazon (B2C)?

We wanted to keep the things that the Amazon customers' told us they love, which is selection, convenience and price. The problem comes when you are in a business and there are certain approval chains that you need to go through. You can't just go buy anything you want. The IT department would have a fit if everyone was just to buy their own laptop. How are they going to repair them, how are they going to have consistent power plugs and consistent batteries? So, one of the challenges for Amazon Business is to help guide the buyers, using the company policies, into being able to select the right thing with confidence: "Yes, this is the laptop I need and my company has already approved it. Therefore, I can just click the buy button and get it tomorrow".

Looking to the future, what is the greatest technological challenge that digital companies and society will face?

I think data is absolutely something that we, everyone, needs to have better control over, our own data. At Amazon, the customer's trust is our absolute number one goal, always, and we have a whole system indicating how important this piece of data is to that individual and there are certain levels at which we never, ever want that customer data to escape from their ownership.

To sum up, what does design mean to you?

To my way of thinking, design is a great way for me to approach problem solving. And design process is set up to help you figure out a good future from the point of view of the customer, that's what design is.