One of the companies which kept popping up in my research was the online American shoe and apparel store Zappos. It is a cutting edge company with some really unique marketing methods and an incredible like-minded team behind it. CEO, Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) is quoted regularly about customer service among other things. He originally joined Zappos as an advisor and investor, eventually becoming CEO. He helped the company grow from near zero sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. Zappos.com, Inc. was acquired by Amazon.com in a deal valued at $1.2 billion on the day of closing and has been named in Fortune Magazine’s annual ‘Best Companies to Work For’ list.
Zappos is definitely a Flawsome company. It claims that one of the things which make it different from a lot of other companies is that Zappos values being fun and a little bit weird. Management decided early on to be unconventional and avoid becoming one of those big companies that project a cold, corporate and boring facade.
A lot of time and resources have been invested in establishing Zappos’ company culture which is a large part of what’s made the brand so successful. The diversity of staff, as well as customers, is celebrated and embraced and each person’s individuality respected. Management encourages staff members to express their personality in their work and interaction with customers. They don’t want cookie cut robots which, when compared to most companies their size, might come across as inconsistent or weird. They believe that it’s important for people and the company as a whole to be bold and daring. They encourage people to take risks (without being reckless) and make mistakes, as long as lessons are learned from the blunders. Zappos’ management also believe in the fundamentals of Flawsome: open, honest relationships and communication.
In his recent book ‘Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose’, Tony Hsieh gave away a secret about the company’s ‘unusual’ customer service, which he claims to be a fundamental part of their success: “flip the equation on your accountant” by putting the cost of customer service time in the marketing column.
This will keep the pressure off your customer service people to be fast, and helps them focus on quality interactions. Think of the customer service department as the whole business. We can use any interaction as an opportunity to form a bond with a customer and listen to what he or she really wants. If you take a little more time with each customer and really listen, you’ll build better rapport, make them feel special which will not only lead to repeat business, but referrals too.