Customer Service: Make it everyone’s priority

Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion, and purpose is a must read for any self-respecting entrepreneur. In this fast-paced and down-to-earth book, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares how a very different kind of corporate culture is a powerful model for achieving success. And why customer service must be a priority for the whole company, not just a department.

PS! These posts on various books are mainly written for our team at Shipitwise. To get the most important ideas we need to implement NOW across to them as fast as possible. And help them decide on what books to read next…

Customer Service

Envision, create, and believe in your own universe.

“First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Gandhi

Before Zappos, there were plenty of other paths Tony tried to reach profits. A worm farm. Mail-order buttons. Making pizza in college. A steady job in Oracle. A startup, LinkExchange that got acquired by Microsoft for $265 millions only two years after being founded. A fund and incubator named Venture Frogs. And even poker.

But when nobody wanted to invest into one of their portfolio companies, Tony went all-in to Zappos.

“A great company is more likely to die of indigestion from too much opportunity than starvation from too little.” – Packard’s Law

With no investments on sight, they cut spendings. Changed their business model. Tony sold everything he had. And people on the team were willing to move to other states for months, no questions asked. Everybody simply fought for the survival of Zappos.

Four years in, they finally got their first loan, and reached $32 million in revenue. That’s when they really started to focus on building their Customer Loyalty Team, and creating an awesome corporate culture.

Your culture is your brand.

After moving the company to Las Vegas, culture became their number one priority. They simply believed that it takes the right culture to build the very best customer service.

To keep their culture strong, they made sure to only hire people they enjoyed hanging out with outside the office. As most of the best ideas came about while having drinks at a local bar. That’s also where they came about the idea to create Zappos Culture Book.

They’ve annually published a completely unedited culture book since then. It compiles every employee’s thoughts on what Zappos culture means to them in 100-500 words. It’s not about the book, but about the culture. It might be an expense in a short-term, but is an investment in long-term. Meanwhile, it’s made available to everyone. Crazy, yes. But worth it!

The feedback from the culture book also led them to launch a monthly employee newsletter called Ask Anything. That’s where employees are asked to send in any questions they want. The anonymous questions and answers are compiled each month and e-mailed to the entire company. – PS! We’ll copy it.

Today, they also offer tours of their headquarters to general public. They’ve got coffee machines dressed up as robots. Aisle of cowbells. A makeshift bowling alley. Employees dressed up as pirates or karaokeing. A nap room. A petting zoo. Sometimes there are parades celebrating e.g. Oktoberfest. Or all kind of other crazy events. Because that’s all a part of their brand.

Customer service must be priority for the whole company, not just one department.

Over the years, the number one driver of Zappos’ growth has been repeat customers and word of mouth. That’s why their philosophy is to invest into customer service and the customer experience as much as possible.

“If you have more than 3 priorities then you don’t have any.” – Jim Collins

One of the most important thing they did was to put their phone number at the top of every single page of their website. Because they actually want to talk to their customers. Thus their call center is staffed 24/7.

Meanwhile, they don’t measure call times, nor upsell. They only care about whether the rep goes above and beyond for every customer. Nor do they have scripts because they trust their employees to use their best judgement when dealing with each and every customer. And that’s also how they’re able to let their true personalities shine during each phone call.

Also, sometimes they’re out of stock on some items. In those instances, every rep is trained to research at least three competitors’ websites, and direct the customer to them. Yes, they’ll lose the sale. But they’re not trying to maximize each and every transaction. Instead, they’re trying to build a lifelong relationship with each customer, one phone call at a time.

“If the person you’re talking to isn’t listening, be patient. Maybe he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” – Winnie-the-Pooh

The majority of phone calls don’t result in an immediate order. But it’s about building a brand. Even if the call isn’t about the service itself. Maybe the customer simply calls to talk when they’re feeling lonely. One time, Tony himself dared a friend to call and order pizza. The Zappos rep was a bit confused at first, but then helped them find a place to get the pizza.

The main point is to always provide great service to all. Be it a customer. An employee. Or a vendor. And that’s also our goal at Shipitwise! To be the logistics company always going above and beyond for every customer…

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