Zappos. The shoe people? Those online retailers? Is that how you know them? Or, do you know them as the undisputed kings of customer service?
Because they are. When it comes to delivering superlative customer support, time after time after time, Zappos nails it every single time. They don’t just think outside of the box, they define it – they are the definition of what world-class customer service is all about.
So, how does a 16-year-old company, whose main job is to sell stuff online, become the byword for customer service? When it puts customer experience above all else.
We have all heard of the “WOW factor” – music show judges generally throw this phrase around a lot. How many of us have seen fit to attach it to the quality of the service we deliver? How many still have made it a byword, the bedrock for building an impressive structure of awesomeness?
At Zappos, this “WOW Philosophy” is the start and end of all this Zappos. Because, it makes them go the extra mile (and then some!) to meet their customer’s expectations, oftentimes exceeding them.
It makes them be unconventional, innovative, out-of-the-box thinkers and doers.
It makes them create a happy work space for themselves, their co-workers and their customers.
If their WOW Philosophy is the foundation for Zappos’ strong brand, their company culture is the whole edifice. Zappos is the example of what an amazing company culture can lead to – having a fun working environment leads to workers having fun at and with their work and this can only lead to every kind of wonderful.
Their primary tenet can be boiled down to this: do what makes you happy. The “you” in question is an employee, their customer, the customer’s ailing mother – whoever it may be, ensure their happiness and everything will fall in place.
A Zen kind of a concept, isn’t it? But when it works, oh boy!
What Customer Wants, Customer Gets
We see this everywhere: the customer is King. Give him what he wants. But how many of us really stretch the limits of that statement? Where do you draw the line and say “that’s enough customer service, thanksverymuch!” and call it a job done? Oftentimes, where we draw the line is an indication of the flexibility of our brand of support and the degree of our motivation. At Zappos, the limit is quite elastic. “Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo” is the party line and by constantly changing, constantly evolving is how Zappos manages to stay abreast of its competition.
Anyone that has heard of Zappos has heard of the pizza story; in fact, there are so many of them now that we can all pick our favourite.
By constantly evolving, never accepting the status quo, they go above and beyond the call of duty and do insane acts of kindness like getting pizzas for their customers and delivering flowers to a bereaved customer.
There’s no manual for this. This isn’t your garden-variety empathy. This comes naturally, when a worker is encouraged to use his / her initiative and there are no ceilings, just customer satisfaction as the ultimate goal.
“We don’t judge, we just want to help” – what a customer service agent said after a mammoth call that went on for more than 10 hours, most of which was spent with the caller chatting about Vegas and such! That sums up the attitude of a Zappos agent – bottom-line is not the objective of every transaction, being there for the customer is!
This is why, Zappos has the amazing statistic of 75% repeat customers. Three out of every four Zappos customer is a repeat customer! Talk about astounding loyalty!
It All Comes From The Top
It is all very well harping on good culture and the fine art of this and the great practice of that if the management isn’t behind the work force. For a company to be a success at what it does, the powers that be have to embody the spirit they want to infuse the company with. This is where Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, leads by a fantastic example. Coming into the company when Zappos was a fledgling e-store, Hsieh turned it around and into the behemoth it is today.
How? By making sure that the core values of his company were spot on- happiness, family and not the bottom-line. By making happiness, a business model.
Zappo And The Art Of Good Storytelling
Good storytelling is an art form. It takes time, effort, sweat, grit and persistence. The Zappos’ success story is also a success of good storytelling. It has all the elements of a great story – heart, enthusiasm, zest, determination – and is being told so well, every single day.
There’s plenty of lessons here for all of us.