In 2009, a guest checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. While opening the luggage, she realized that she’d forgotten a pair of her favorite shoes. She had purchased the missing shoes at Zappos, so she headed to its website. When she could not find another pair of the same shoes on the site, she called the company’s help-desk concierge service. Zappos no longer had the shoes, but its headquarters are just outside of Las Vegas. So the Zappos team located the shoes at a nearby mall, went there and purchased the shoes, and then hand-delivered them to the Mandalay Bay, all at no charge.
No points for guessing, this person just became a life long customer for Zappos just because Zappos love its customer. Their love for customer can go to such length that they won’t mind referring people to competitor, just to help people and make them happy.
For those of you who don’t know about Zappos, here is a brief introduction.
Zappos is the world’s biggest show retailer online founded in 1999 by Nick Swinmurn and funded by Tony Hsieh (pronounced “Shay”). Tony soon became its CEO and under his leadership, it became world’s biggest shoe retailer and subsequently acquired by Amazon.com for $1.2 billion in 2009. It continued to run as a separate company and now it sells everything from shoes to apparels. Company is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Their slogan or mantra is -
We are a service company that happens to sell shoes. And handbags. And more…
This mantra sums up their philosophy. Each and every person in the company is obsessed about customer service and love for customers. The excellent out of world service is part of their DNA and is considered an investment rather than cost. Unlike other companies, they do not try to cut down customer service cost.
They try to provide best possible customer experience, and do so in a fun and engaging manner. They have great customer friendly policies and super fast, free shipping.
People have amazing and touchy stories about their experience with Zappos. Story like the one at the start of this article and many more has led to the phenomenal growth of Zappos over the period of time. Their customer retention rate of 75% is one of the highest and bring more and more repeat business. They keep all the inventory of products sold on their website, in order to expedite delivery. Marketing expenditure is less as customers are its brand custodian. They come back again and refer their friend to the website.
Zappos is the perfect example of world class customer service and making customer happy. Credit to much of this success goes to CEO Tony Hsieh who has revolutionized the way they do business.
Zappos culture has uniquely enabled its employees to be themselves and serve customers in the best possible manner. There are no limit on customer call duration. At one time, a call went up to 10 hours where customer care executive helped customer solve her query and enabled her to buy right product.
As is evident so far that putting customers first can actually help business grow like anything. So how can we all have that same mind set?
How to let customers fall in love with you?
Understand what they really want apart from your product. is it timely delivery, after sales service, extra discount, hassle free buying experience or anything else?
How many times, we have waited for several minutes over phone, just to talk to an unprofessional executive, who does not understand a single thing about your pain?
Meet your customers often and than shut up & listen. Make a note of all the things they want and than get it done. People at Zappos take customer feedback and concerns really serious and leave no stone unturned to help them.
As the saying goes, “Customer is King”, so serve them justly. Treat them as the most important person in the world. If you love them, they will shower back with their love and affection.
Zappos team will not shy away referring their customer’s to their competitors. Simply because for them customer happiness is more than business bottom line. This in turn has bought them customer loyalty with 75% repeat business.
People will become your life long customer. Find ways to WOW them.
- Build culture of service and happiness
Excellent customer service and making people happy is not a one person job. Collectively every one from top to bottom in the company should understand this and live by the mantra of delivering happiness.
That’s where culture plays a very important role. What we do and how we do is what makes any culture. Hire people who live and breathe your culture. People who are passionate about serving people and who are not just for money and rewards.
Zappos has a very clear process of hiring the best and have an extensive training period where new hires are trained in Zappos way of customer service. At the end of the training period, people are offered upto $4000 to quit if they feel they are not right fit in the company. Now which company in the world will do so to weed out wrong hire?
Every new hire is expected to read Zappos Culture Book which is updated regularly and contains hundreds of unscripted comments and essays written by Zappos employees and vendors about the company’s culture, why it matters, and how it affects what they do every day.
Tony hsieh has even written a book on Delivering happiness through customer service. I would urge you to read this to understand his underlying philosophy.
To know more about how Zappos serve its customer, have a look at the following slide.