10 Lessons from One of the World’s Best at Service

Zappo’s (the US online shoe retailer) has long been seen as a world leader in customer service. With revenues in excess of US$3 billion and over 80% of customers coming back from more, there are some extremely valuable lessons to be learnt from this retailer.

It all starts from their absolute focus on their 10 core values, which took over a year to develop with lots of discussion and feedback until they were right. Through these values, they create the understanding of what is expected and how team members need to behave accordingly and therefore consistently.

Here’s a sample of a few of their values:

  • Deliver WOW through service
  • Create fun and a little weirdness
  • Be adventurous, creative and open-minded
  • Build open and honest relationships with communication
  • Do more with less

Pretty simple yet powerful. I’ve seen a number of company’s, who also have values, yet not many are actively living and breathing these values every day and supporting their team to do the same. Values are just a list of words until team members live them through their behaviours each and every day.

Here’s 10 examples of how Zappo live and breathe their values which could be very relatable to your business:

1) In week 3 of their induction (yes they have a 4 week induction program), team members do a Values Project which involves researching and demonstrating to your peers what the values mean to that team member and the business.

2) The Zappo’s recruitment process has two strands, one for technical competence and one for culture fit. If a potential employee passes the technical fit but not the culture fit, they are not hired.

3) Their HR processes consistently reinforce the behaviours and everyone is regularly reviewed against them working in line and promoting the values.

4) People are engaged, empowered and enabled to live these behaviours.

5) Team members have full empowerment to do the right thing without permission from a ‘boss’.

6) Zappo’s ultimate aim is to train staff so they don’t have to pass the customer on to someone else.

7) There are definitely no scripts!

8) Zappo’s team members are also allowed (empowered and enabled) to make wise decisions to delight customers.

9) Team members are rewarded for exceptional customer service, especially when great feedback has come from customers.

10) Being a role model in living the values means you have more chance of being promoted.

What I love is Zappo’s absolute focus on rewarding team members for living and breathing and putting in place the values. How well are you supporting your team to do the same?

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” 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.