I’m excited to feature Zappos.com here as a company that truly embodies what employee-customer care is all about. I was fortunate to tour their headquarters office this summer and will share my impressions + what I’ve learned about the company since then, but first a little background.
The Zappos Brand: Legendary Customer Service
Zappos.com started in 1999 as an online shoe retailer and has expanded its product line to include clothing, accessories, and more. It has more than 1700 employees who serve 8 million+ customers, of whom 75% are repeat customers.
Zappos is aligned around one mission: to provide the best service possible. This reflects their ‘WOW philosophy’ where the goal is for every customer interaction to result in the customer saying “WOW!” (Check out this post from a customer who loves Zappos.)
My initial impressions of Zappos
WOW! also describes my initial reaction to the people I met and everything I observed during my tour there. The atmosphere I encountered in the company’s corporate office in Las Vegas appeared to be fun, funky, friendly, and frenetic. There were the popcorn machine and the peanut dispensers on the front desk in the lobby area … Christmas-in-July holiday decorations … the continuous video showcasing the fulfillment center’s state-of-the-art technology for sorting merchandise … and a steady stream of employees flowing through the office.
Renna, who works at the Help Desk (an in-house concierge service) gave me a tour of the place, carrying a flag with her (symbol of a tour-in-progress). The main office I visited is one of several buildings on the Zappos campus in Las Vegas, and it’s crowded with cubicles that are decorated to reflect both individual tastes and the employee’s respective departmental culture. Almost everyone works in a cubicle-type space – including the company president. The only staff members in traditional offices with doors are those in legal (confidentiality reasons) and IT (temperature control for sensitive equipment).
Midway through the tour we stopped at Dr. Vik’s office (one of the first professional staff who now serves as corporate coach), where my picture was taken and added to the gallery of VIP photos that line his office. I was also taken by the lunch room/kitchen area where lunch is provided free for all employees. (Three shifts work round the clock.)
After my tour, I spent some time talking with Donavon Roberson, Help Desk Operations Manager, and Mark Guadagnoli, director of Zappos University (aka the ZU Keeper) to gain additional insight into their organization. When I asked Donavon about Zappos.com’s competition, his answer blew me away. Instead of naming other major online retailers, which is what I expected, he told me their competition is “Bad customer service.”
More to come
I’ll share more about how Zappos takes care of its employees in my next post, so stay tuned.