With all the gloom and doom surrounding the economy these days, it seems like the consumer-facing companies that are going to do well during an economic downturn are those that actively address customer "pain points." Over the past two weeks, both Amazon.com and FedEx have shown that they are attuned to customer needs with new moves designed to alleviate two big customer pain points.

Wrap_rage_2 Amazon recently introduced "frustration-free packaging" to online buyers. How many times have you attempted to open a new gift that has been shrink-wrapped in an impenetrable plastic clamshell? Needless to say, it spoils the moment somewhat when you have to take a butcher's knife to the plastic or inexplicably explode in a fit of "wrap rage." Well, not during this holiday gifting season. Amazon has introduced new packaging for some gifts ordered on its site -- making these gifts easy and safe to open, with packaging that is recyclable and environmentally-safe.

United_fedex_baggage For anyone tired of the time, frustration and expense of sending luggage via flying buses airlines, FedEx just announced a new baggage-handling service in coordination with United Airlines that enables passengers to ship their baggage with guaranteed next-day delivery for as little as $149 (and $179 for longer trips) -- without actually having to take the bags to the airport, and then endure an interminable check-in and baggage-screening process. Granted, those annoying $15 or $30 baggage fees pale in comparison to the $149 cost for door-to-door baggage handling. However, the fact that Fred Smith and the team at FedEx did the due diligence and decided that the $149 fee  was one that many business and personal travelers would accept tells you something about how bad the airline business has become. In focus group after focus group, United Airlines found that flyers would do just about anything to avoid carrying bulky materials through airports.