Think like Zappos, which, according to CEO, Tony Hsieh, has the ultimate aim to be the very best in delivering customer service and consumer experience.
Truly great customer service is rare and Hsieh suspects a lot of people are frustrated by this. “In the long run, customer service is just good business,” he says. “The problem, however, is that the payoff is usually two or three years down the line.”
Given that Zappos made over $1billion in merchandise sales in 2008 after starting in 1999 with almost nothing, with repeat customers and word of mouth as the main drivers, we can see how many businesses are now beginning to cotton onto the force that is Zappos.
So what ‘s different about Zappos?
- The company provides free shipping both ways
- Zappos has a 365-day return policy
- Only products available in the warehouse are placed on the site
- The warehouse is open 24 hours a day
- The company is contactable 24/7
- The 1800 contact number is prominently placed on every page of the site
- The company trusts in its reps; sales staff don’t have scripts
- If products are unavailable, sales staff direct customers to competitors.
While some of these ideas are extraordinary, like the 365-day return policy, others are quite easy to implement, e.g. putting your phone number on every page of your website. While some of these aren’t always efficient to the Zappos’ bottom line, Hsieh firmly believes that creating a ‘wow’ experience for the customer and investing in a corporate culture that gives employees space and freedom and space is what makes them so successful.
“If you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a brand, will just happen naturally,” says Hsieh.