Thinking out of the shoe box
I’ve been admiring a certain brand for a couple of months now. Not only is it inspiring, but it is also a perfect example how simple and sincere vision can bring major success. It used to be called shoesite.com, bit luckily enough they changed the name soon to zappos.com. At first sight, it is an ordinary website with the primary purpose of selling shoes. But since its launch, Zappos has become everything but a synonym for the online shoe store.
The philosophy behind the Zappos brand is simple. Their focus isn’t on the shoe, but rather on the person willing to buy that shoe. Customer is everything in Zappos, so they set a simple goal – to provide the best service possible. Instead of delivering shoes, Zappos has decided to deliver happiness.
The core of the Zappos philosophy lies within the company culture. Zappos is probably the only company in the world that has appointed CHO – Chief Happiness Officer, to take care of satisfied consumers. Each employee (including the managers) has to start from the bottom and spend the first several weeks at the call centre to get the rounded view of the company. All the applicants for the job in Zappos have to pass two tests – one to show their professional skills, and the other to show their personality. One of the questions at the job interview is “how weird you are on the scale of one to ten?” and is set to find out if the person fits the company culture. After initial training the new employees were each offered a $2.000 to quit, in order to get rid of those least motivated. Only 3% of all the new recruits take the offer.
When it comes to relations with customers, the aim is to go behind the traditional methods. Employees are encouraged to talk to their customers and to get to know them better. So it’s not a big of surprise that the longest call to the call centre lasted more than five hours.
There are several interesting stories demonstrating the dedication of Zappos’ customer service. One time, after a long night of barhopping, the Zappos CEO made a bet with the Skechers representative that they could get info on the available pizza deliveries by calling the Zappos call centre. When the Skechers guy called, he actually got numbers and addresses of five pizza deliveries.
The other story is about a woman who wanted to return the shoes her late husband ordered before he died. The next day she received a refund for the shoes along with a condolence letter and flowers from a Zappos representative.
Delivering happiness really paid of for Zappos. Out of all the Zappos customers, 75% are repeat buyers. After years of making continuous profit, in 2009 Amazon bought them for more than $1 billion.
So remember, true and sincere emotion always pays of. It can all start with a vision as simple as delivering a bit of happiness by providing the best service possible.