For the past few months, I have written about the importance of purpose, core values, culture and customer experience in building a strong and enduring brand. Zappos is an example of a company that has combined these elements to build an extraordinary brand. Zappos is an online shoe and apparel shop headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. Zappos was founded in 1999 and has grown to be the largest online shoe store. Their approach has been to take the money they would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and experience and let customers do the marketing through word of mouth.
Personally, I am a big fan of Zappos. I had the opportunity to tour their call center in 2006 and was struck by the passion of their employees. I always wait to the last-minute to do my Christmas shopping. For the past four years, I have bought gifts from Zappos on December 22nd and received them in time for Christmas with no shipping charges. That is amazing customer service.
Zappos has a strong dedication to customer service and customer experience. It has built its brand through customer service, culture and an investment in employee training and development. Zappos believes that the good old phone is one of the best branding devices out there. You have the customer’s undivided attention for five to ten minutes and if you get the interaction right, what they have found is that the customer remembers the experience for a very long time and tells his or her friends about it. Their number one driver of growth is repeat business and word of mouth.
Most call centers measure their employees performance based on what is known as average handle time, which focuses on how many phone calls each rep can take in a day. This translates into reps worrying about how quickly they can get a customer off the phone. Other call centers focus on up selling and cross selling instead of just helping customers. That can be very annoying. Zappos doesn’t measure call time or up sell customers. They just care about whether the rep goes above and beyond for every customer. They encourage their people to let their true personalities shine during each call so that they can develop a personal emotional connection with the customer.
Zappos focuses on engagement and building trust. They believe that culture is critical to brand building. If you get your culture right everything will happen naturally. Zappos purpose is to live and deliver WOW everyday day.
Have you shopped at Zappos and how was your experience?