Secrets from One of the World’s Best – Zappo’s

As a retail business with an absolute passion for consistently providing amazing customer service experiences, Zappo’s is right up there. Their focus is on making every interaction with customers a memorable experience and this has certainly helped them in their growth since starting up in 1999.

They were obviously doing lots of things right for Amazon to buy them in 2009 and they are now producing revenues of over $2 billion.

When I came across an interview with their Director of the Customer Loyalty team, Rob Siefker by Adrian Swinscoe (from Customer Think), I thought it was worth sharing and commenting on a few of their secrets and how these can easily apply to every retailer no matter what your size.

As an overview, Rob cites the secret to Zappo’s success is their people and culture. These two things don’t just happen so here are some of their insights into how they build an amazing culture with incredible people:

  • Recruiting people to fit their culture that has the right personality for the type of company they are – I have shared many thoughts on this critical process in previous blogs and it makes a massive difference. Zappo’s still have the offer of paying $2000 to anyone who wants to quit – now that sends a strong statement that they take great care in this process.
  • On-boarding process, this is an area Zappo’s pay a lot of attention to. Rob describes the on-boarding process as pretty intense but in a good and fun way – How many retailers do this well? I suspect not many and we end up setting our people up to either fail or be mediocre. This is a critical period for any new team member and when done well will set high expectations from the start and enable team members to live up to these.
  • They create a positive environment as possible to help with the ups and downs that any company goes through – Retail is challenging, often with very busy periods, standing on your feet, dealing with sometimes challenging customers, and doing the same tasks day in day out. What can you do to ensure your team feels valued and motivated? Providing lots of positive feedback when they do things well, creating a fun environment to work at will go a long way to helping with this.
  • Zappo’s empower their people to do the right thing – I love this, team members are empowered to make decisions (within boundaries) so they can satisfy the customer there and then. This is what customers want, they don’t want to have to wait while you check with a supervisor as this leads to additional frustrations. Allow your team to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and make a decision that way – your customers will love you for it.

Four simple insights into what helps Zappo’s be successful that can easily be adapted by any retailer to also help them be more successful. Now the challenge, as always, is to implement these changes. What have you got to lose? Only more customers if you don’t get these four things right!


Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.

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Roger Simpson and the team at The Retail Solution have provided nearly 2 decades of unparalleled expertise in retail consulting for Australian businesses.
 
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