The ‘Zappos Theory’ is something a lot of people have heard of. If you’re new to the theory- here is the lowdown – Zappos is an online shoe retailer. They provide new employees with a four-week training period that immerses them in the company’s strategy, culture, and obsession with customers, also they pay full salary during this time. However a week or so into the program comes “The Offer”:
“If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.”
They do this to weed out the bad apples and the people who wouldn’t fit the company culture. You see, for Zappos customer service is not just a department. Click it if you want more proof….we’ll wait for you to come back, heart beating a bit faster- mixed emotions of inspiration and bewilderment? Maybe it’s just me who gets really excited by companies like Zappos. Zappos is so dedicated to customer service in fact, that it’s what they say ‘powers’ their business. No really, it’s their tagline. Realistically the fact that they print “Powered by Service” on their boxes and tout it on their website means diddly-squat. But the fact that service drives and decides exactly how Zappos operates daily means everything. This is where I tip my hat to Tony Hsieh, CEO. Hsieh has something so few CEO’s do: trust. He trusts his employees to get the job done. And he has empowered them to do it in so many ways. Take for example their call-centre. Call-centres are a contentious issue and the majority of companies get them so very very wrong, I could go off on a long frustrated tangent about this, but thats a post for another time. Zappos have it mastered;
1. They publish their 1-800 number on every page of their site eliminating the frustration of having to go hunting for it, or being forced to fill in an online form when all you want is to speak to a human being!
2. Smart and entertaining call-centre employees are free to do whatever it takes to make you happy. There are no scripts, no time limits on calls, no robotic behaviour. Hsieh trusts his employees to get the job done. He believes they are fully capable, so he leaves them to it and wham bam, what do you know- happy customers time and time again. Zappos staff have even been called fanatical about customer service. Google offers a selection of stories and case studies for your perusal.
3. They offer free delivery and returns. Buying clothing, especially shoes without trying them on can be tricky, this offering makes online shopping, without fitting, risk free.
4. They promise four-day delivery, but most of the time they deliver the next day. It’s the old ‘under promise, over deliver’ in action. Zappos thrive on not just satisfying customers, but amazing them. To get this right they need the right people, all the way through the company, thus it seems a small price to pay the bad apples to leave before they contaminate the barrel.
Most of the inspiration and quotes from this article were inspired by this Harvard Business Review article. If you want to read more about Zappos’ focus on customer service Business Insider has this for you.
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