Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Promote Fun. Promote Profits

I have to admit, some of the antics that this article reports sound a tad bit wacky. Fun, yes, but definitely wacky.

"Direct Magazine" reports on online shoe merchant, Zappos.com's focus on the customer and their unique belief that a fun, eclectic culture will promote and drive great customer service.

From the article: “Co-workers will burst into song and dance at random intervals throughout the day,” writes human resources staffer Christa F. “Upon request, the CFO will groom your hair.”

She adds: “Parades. Why, you may ask? Why not!”

But, it's not all fun and games at Zappos.com. They also have the right attitude about enabling their customer service reps. "Zappos' call center reps are not scripted and have the power to do most anything they want to make sure the customer leaves the call happy.

“There's really nothing a manager can do that the rep himself or herself can't do,” Hsieh (Tony Hseih, CEO) says. “A customer should never have to be transferred for any reason, because the rep can pretty much take care of everything.”

Reps are even encouraged to recommend competitors' Web sites when Zappos doesn't have what shoppers are looking for. The reason: Next time these people are in the market for a new pair of shoes, they'll think of Zappos first."

And guess what, this fun, crazy, empowered environment is delivering success. "The company is on track to do $800 million in sales this year, up from $597 million in 2006. That's a good chunk of the total online footwear market for 2006, which totaled $2.9 billion last year, according to Forrester Research."

In my opinion, there are two key lessons to be gained from this case study:
  1. Empowerment drives customer service. Let reps do the right thing for the customer and that company's earned a customer for life.
  2. Make the corporate atmosphere FUN. Happy employees make for a better company, they really do. If someone has fun going to work (and, I personally think that a mid-day parade would be a great thing), they're going to be more productive. Heck, at Zappos, they even work for a lower wage!
I would love to see some of the stuffy Fortune 500 companies take on more of the Zappos attitude. I truly believe we'd see increased productivity and definitely more innovation. Plus, the world would be a lot more fun.


Anonymous said...


I thought this comment about the Zappos attitude would be on topic:


Zappos is so different!!

Suzanne Obermire said...

Wow. Zappos does have heart. Folks, if you haven't linked over to Anonymous' link, do so. It talks about how not only did Zappos facilitate returns (by sending out UPS, on them, gratis), but when the returner ended up being deceased, they also sent flowers. This shows a company who gives their service reps the latitude to be human, to have a heart. Thanks for sharing.

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