What Your Company Can Learn From Zappos Shoes
by Guest Blogger, Doug Stewart
Doug Stewart, author of Power to Fight the Big Boys, was kind enough to guest blog for S?mèr today. The article below is a reprint of a September 18, 2009, article.
You can buy your shoes at Wal-Mart. You can buy your shoes at Target. You can buy your shoes at a big department store. So why would you ever buy your shoes from an unknown online store?
Back in 1998 Nick Swinmurn had a crazy idea, “I’m going to sell shoes online.” So he called investors asking for financial help. The big money boys just laughed at his plans. But one shrewd investor listened . . .
The Detail Other Investors Overlooked
Excited, Nick Swinmurn’s soon-to-be partner/investor noticed one detail the other investors must’ve overlooked. The retail shoe market was a 40 billion dollar industry back then. And 5 percent of those shoe sales were from mail order businesses.People were already pulling their credit cards out of their wallets and buying shoes – – without ever touching them, smelling them or tying a shoelace. That’s when investor Tony Hsieh realized, “this could work.”
Little did Nick and Tony know just how well their idea would work. Soon their little online store would become an internet marketing legend.
One Secret to their Meteoric Sales Explosion: Buzz, Buzz, Buzz. The Stories of Zappos Legendary Customer Service.
One day a lady orders a pair of shoes from Zappos for her husband. But her husband dies in a car wreck. So the grieving widow calls to return the shoes. The rep politely walks her through the return procedure. So far this isn’t any different from what would happen at any other store. But here’s where legendary customer service kicks in . . . After the rep gets off the phone call, she sends flowers to the lady on behalf of the company. Now that’s great customer service.
This story is shared. First to one friend. Then another and then another. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.
A customer thought their shoes would arrive in 3-7 days. An e-mail informs them they are upgraded to overnight air because they’re a valued customer.
If you call Zappos and they’re out of stock on a particular style or your size, they will help you find your shoe on up to 3 competitors’ websites. That’s great customer service. That’s creating buzz.
But that’s not the BIG secret. Keep reading. You’ll find it below.
In 2008 Zappos Annual Sales Broke the Billion Dollar Mark. Tony Hsieh Bases their Skyrocketing Growth on These 4 “Things”
#1: Have a Vision (Not Monetary)
#2: Focus on repeat customers
#4: Culture – “Committable core values”
Zappos core values:
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
I wish I had more time to dig into the details of Tony’s “4 Things.” But that’s beyond the scope of this blog post. Maybe another day. Now for the big secret tucked behind it all.
Tucked behind the customer service stories, tucked behind Tony Tsieh’s ”4 Things” is one simple truth . . .
Commit to something bold. Don’t be mamby pamby with some catch phrase like, ”We deliver world class customer service.” Put some real teeth into it.
Think of one demonstrable simple action that’s over the top. Something your competition would scream, “We can’t do that.” Then deliver it.
**Dominos did it and changed the pizza world with . . . “30 Minutes or Less or It’s Free”
**Fedex did it with . . . “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
Once you deliver your first over-the-top demonstrable simple action. Add another one. That’s the real hidden secret. Zappos bold over-the-top demonstrable actions are piling up. They add one layer of over-the-top goodness after another. Then they add one more. People are talking about it.
Take that you big box retailers.
Read more articles like this at Power to Fight the Big Boys.
October 16th, 2009 at 2:10 pm
Thanks for inviting me to be your “guest” today Michelle.
October 16th, 2009 at 2:15 pm
One thing that strikes me about Zappos…they include their employees in their core values. So often companies don’t give their employees a second thought, but they are customers of the company (and each other), and deserve the same service that Flora in Tennessee gets.
October 20th, 2009 at 11:12 pm
Melody, it’s refreshing to see that employees are included in their core values, isn’t it? Since this post, I’ve read two different articles on Zappos stepping outside of the box and succeeding as a result. Thanks for the post.