Monday, 11 August 2008

Building A Customer-Focused Culture at

As promised, I wanted to give you some insight into the customer-centric culture at Zappos is one of the fastest growing retailers in the US and on the Internet, with sales of their shoes and accessories set to hit $1 billion this year. It is run by Tony Hsieh, who gracefully accepted the invitation to write the foreword to the second edition of A Complaint Is a Gift, the book version co-authored with Janelle Barlow, of the customer service concept I pioneered back in the early 1990s.

Tony has instilled a culture at Zappos based around 10 core values, which not only guide their everyday dealings with internal customers as well as external ones, but they are also a part of the hiring process so you need to exhibit these traits if you dream of getting a job with Zappos. The 10 values are:

  1. Deliver "WOW" through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
  5. Pursue growth and learning
  6. Build open and honest relationships with communication
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble
In addition to these 10 core values, Tony also has some incredibly good tips on how other companies can learn from Zappos and truly focus on their customers to achieve success. And what a success Zappos has become. 75% of all sales come from repeat customers and basket sizes increase from the first to the second transaction. This is all down to ensuring that the customers really do feel welcome and looked after by Zappos.

What impressed me most about Tony is his genuine interest in his customers. I read a story about how two sisters felt that they had been racially profiled by a Zappos outlet store in Las Vegas and how Tony personally dealt with the complaint along with other members of senior management. Read this inspirational tale of true customer service.

Try doing a Google search on Zappos and their customer service as well and you will find many fascinating insights into the company both from employees and from customers. The idea of doing an annual culture book is also something I like a lot, although I would like to see this being made available for free (perhaps as a PDF?)

Tony is very active on the speaking circuit and is not afraid to share the secrets of his success with people in all industries. The principles he has used to build the foundation for are evergreens in the field of customer service and customer relationship management and can be applied by ANY COMPANY in ANY FIELD. On Tony's blog he is more than happy to share his wisdom with you and you can watch several of his keynotes.

If you have time to watch only one, I would recommend that you watch Tony's keynote presentation below to be inspired to do something to improve your customer focus. I can guarantee you that just a tiny improvement in ONE of these areas can increase your customer loyalty and customer lifetime value (LTV) dramatically.

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