Ten Rules For Creating A Customer-Centric Culture Like Zappos.com

Written by Chipo Mapungwana

This is not a blog about Zappos.com. This is a post about how your company can create a customer service culture like Zappos.com. SMEs and brands that want to win the customer loyalty war can learn a thing or two from Zappos.com, the largest on-line shoe retailer in the world. Founded in 1999 by Nick Swinmum , Tony Hsein and Alfred Lin, Zappos.com sells more than 50 000 pairs of shoes a year in a business that is now worth more than $2 billion. The on-line shoe store also serves niche markets  like wide width feet and hard to find  shoe sizes. Zappos.com has since expanded into clothing, handbags, watches, eyewear and children’s merchandise.

Zappos.com winning business model

Zappos.com  uses a loyalty business model and relationship marketing strategies . The primary sources of the company’s rapid growth have been repeat customers and numerous word of mouth recommendations.  Of its customers, 75% are repeat buyers.

The company’s customer service reputation has been augmented through viral online  word of mouth (or mouse) … as well. Shoe merchant Zappos.com has benefited from Internet wildfire and more recently, social media marketing.  The company has an active Facebook , Twitter and Pinterest presence and its CEO actively participates on- line to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and  brand. When Zappos.com  offered special return shipping assistance, beyond their company policies…the good word about the company spread quickly throughout the blogosphere.

Zappo.com  has a stated goal to offer “best service in the industry.” Their service promotes such benefits as:

1.      Free shipping both ways

2.      A 365-day return policy

3.      A 24/7 call center

The Zappos.com mission statement is a simple one: “We are a service company that happens to sell _____.” What the online retailer sells is purposely left blank.  Best known for selling shoes, Zappos.com doesn’t want to be restricted by filling in that blank; The company wants to be known for the great service that it provides. Below are the ten service  values  that the Zappos.com  brand lives by.

Make customer service a priority for the whole company.

Every new hire takes the company’s two-week customer loyalty training program and that means every new employee, including managers and senior staff. Along with the basics of how to use the service systems, the training focuses on helping new staff embrace the culture by explaining how customer centricity is practiced at Zappos.com.

Make “wow” a part of your company’ vocabulary.

The company has a “wow”   cycle that includes offering new and existing customers great products at great prices, then delivering them with outstanding service. “It’s the ‘wow’ that generates referrals”

Don’t measure call times, and don’t force agents to upsell.

Although management does track such metrics as average call handle time, these numbers are not emphasized to agents. Zappos.com management wants its staff to focus on the customer by taking the time necessary to provide a great experience and understand what the customer needs.

Empower your customer service team.

The company  focuses on delivering the best service possible, that’s why they  call their  service team the Customer loyalty department.  They understand that creating long-term customer relationships is key. The Zappos.com management team also believes that customer loyalty is an investment, not an expense, and they communicate that attitude throughout the organization.

Don’t hide your toll-free number or you social media pages.

Zappos.com’s toll-free customer service number is displayed at the top, left-hand corner of every page on its Web site.

Have the entire company celebrate great service.

Zappos.com has 10 core values that help them celebrate great service every day.  Those values include: deliver “wow” through great service, embrace and drive change, pursue growth and learning, and build open and honest relationships through communication.

Create a culture book.

Each year Zappos.com founder Nick Swinmurn asks employees what it means to them to work at Zappos.com and why they want to be there. The answers are printed together in book form and distributed to the entire staff, as well as being made available to customers.

Find people who are passionate about customer service.

The company  looks for people who fit their  10 core values. During bi-monthly job fairs that the company hosts, each candidate is interviewed by   six Zappos.com executives. Anyone who gets a “yes” vote from at least four of the six is brought in for a second interview that includes questions and testing around the core values.

Give great service to everyone: customers, employees, and      vendors.

At Zappos.com this means being open and sharing information. It also means that the primary focus is on the customer, not on competitors.

Make customer service part of everyone’s performance reviews.

At Zappos.com employees are evaluated annually against the 10 core values. This helps show who’s committed to deliver a great service experience.

There you have it. Difficult to implement. Hardly! All it  takes is one step, one change, one right hire, one system, one policy  at a time and a complete focus on your customers and their satisfaction.

For Brand and reputation and Social media training and consulting, email Chipo Mapungwana at chipomaps@gmail.com


About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
This entry was posted in Branding, Entrepreneurship, Marketing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Ten Rules For Creating A Customer-Centric Culture Like Zappos.com

  1. Great article. Always enjoy articles that can take specific examples or case studies to demonstrate a point. Having said that, Zappos makes a few questionable decisions related to branding and marketing, however you highlight a few of the main things that they are doing RIGHT in order to build a brand trust (reputation) with consumerx<s.

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