Zappos is an online sensation that sells shoes and other retail goods in the US. The online shoe retailer has revenues of $1 billion annually and in the year of 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for around $1 billion. It is not about ‘what it sells’ that makes Zappos successful, it is about ‘how it sells’ that makes Zappos the online powerhouse what it is today. The CEO millionaire Tony Hsieh is world famous for creating a business that is both highly profitable and fun to work for. What are the lessons that we can learn from this outstanding company?
Lesson 1: positive and sincere company culture
The power of company culture is something that many firms underestimate, not realizing how crucial it actually is for the corporate behavior, work quality and overall profits. It is not just a bullet-point list on the corporate website telling the customers what they stand for. Zappos number one focus is the culture within the company, it all starts within the heart of every employee on every department through-out the whole company.
Zappos produces annually a ‘Culture book’ that is shared with anyone who is interested in the content which includes employees, vendors and customers. The book describes the ethos of the company and it features 100 to 500 word essays by current employees.
A positive office culture will lead to happy, positive, passionate employees with outstanding work performances. The Zappos office, is not the typical formal work place. The company has some special rooms such as a napping room, bowling alley or a karaoke room. If you were happen to visit on ‘Bald and Blue Day’ there is a big possibility that you would find employees shaving each other’s head. Furthermore, they also have a ‘Face Game’. When an employee logs into their computer, a face pops up of a fellow employee and they will be asked to enter the person’s name. Whether you answer correct or not, you will be able to see a bio and profile. A great way to get to know your fellow colleagues and building a tight culture! Watch the video in order to have a better impression of how the company culture is at Zappos.
Lesson 2: dazzling customer Service
Zappos stands for one thing, the absolute best customer service! At the company they believe in treating their customers amazingly well and they will tell all their friends. If customers have any questions or encounter problems regarding the products, they often call to the customer service to get a quick response. Rather than urging customer service staff to take as many calls as quickly as possible, there are no regulations and the longer the call the better. The longest customer service call took more than 8 hours. Their reputation has been leveled through viral spreading, the good word about the company has spread quickly by means of the blogosphere. Zappos lets it customers do their marketing.
Hsieh states that “our whole goal is that we want to build the best brand of customer service. Hopefully, 10 years from now, people won’t even realize that we started selling shoes.”
Lesson 3: Training and development
In order to hire employees who are sincere and dedicated to work for Zappos, all new employees go through a training program of four weeks. In the first week everyone is offered $2000,- to leave, which stands until the end of the fourth week. Zappos wants to make sure the new employees are there for more than just their salary. Personal and professional growth is expected every week. Core values such as be humble, do more with less are included. Zappos doesn’t hire experienced professionals, employees can grow their capacities from within the company. All employees can access 30 various courses created by Zappos exclusively for their staff. The trainings programs differ from how to answer the phone to stress management.
The number one priority of Zappos is their company culture. They belief in getting the culture right and everything else such as building a long-term enduring brand will happen naturally on its own. If you hear anything about Zappos from one of their customers, chances are it will be positive. There are various stories about their remarkable customer service, among other things delivering a bouquet of flowers to a customer whose mom passed away and talking to a customer for over than 8 hours. Finally, the company only have passionate and engaged employees. So, ask yourself: what do you do to ensure employees aren’t just working at your company for a paycheck, but actually love working there and believe in the mission and values? What is the culture within your company like? How can I improve my customer service?