Internal Marketing Spotlight: Zappos.com (Part 3)

As a specialist in employee-customer care, I continue to be impressed with Zappos.com. While my previous posts in this Spotlight series highlight what I’ve learned about the company, what really matters are the employees’ perceptions of the organization. After all, they’re the ones most familiar with it.

They’ve even written books about it. Seriously. Each year employees are asked to express their thoughts on what the Zappos culture means to them, and the results are compiled in their annual Culture Book. The 2008 edition is nearly 500 pages!

[Note: Special thanks to Zappos.com for permission to cite the following excerpts here.]

Zappos Culture – from the CEO’s perspective

To explain what the Culture Book is all about, here’s part of the book’s introduction by Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO.

“… In order for us to succeed as a service company, we need to create, maintain, and grow a culture where employees want to play a part in providing great service. I’ve been asked a number of times what the company’s biggest asset is, and my answer is always the same: the CULTURE.

“As we grow as a company and hire new people, we need to make sure that they understand and become a part of our CULTURE. This is the purpose of this book – to provide a glimpse of what the Zappos CULTURE is all about to new hires, prospective new hires, our vendors and partners, and anyone else who might be interested.

“So what is the Zappos CULTURE? To me, the Zappos CULTURE embodies many different elements. It’s always looking for new ways to WOW everyone we come in contact with. It’s about building relationships where we treat each other like family. It’s about teamwork and having fun and not taking ourselves too seriously. It’s about growth, both personal and professional. It’s about achieving the impossible with fewer people. It’s about openness, taking risks, and not being afraid to make mistakes. But most of all, it’s about having faith that if we do the right thing, then in the long run we will succeed and build something great. …

“Of course, the Zappos CULTURE means different things to different people, so I thought the best way for people to learn what the Zappos CULTURE was all about was to hear from our employees directly … “        © 2008 Zappos.com, Inc.

Zappos Culture – from the Employees’ Perspective

Here’s a sample of contributions from three employees:

To me, Zappos Culture comes back [to] our mission statement: To live and deliver WOW. … Sometimes you’re delivering it and sometimes you’re receiving it from our fellow friends here, but there seems to be an ever-constant saturation of WOW. To truly understand what WOW is, I think the following statements describe it best:

  • WOW is waking up in the morning and not dreading work.
  • WOW is having Christmas in July taken seriously (full tree, presents, and everything) 
  • WOW is having a random Nerf Gun fight.
  • WOW is having the power to make decisions and being able to stand by them. 
  • WOW is saying that the company you work for cares about people and really means it.”

“Zappos Culture is all about building open and honest relationships through communication. This is the first place I have ever worked where time is taken to understand what you are feeling, thinking or contemplating. Because of this open communication, problems are resolved quickly, feelings are hurt less often and one can stay on track at being the BEST at delivering WOW.”

“Like a joyous occasion, Zappos Culture is one to be had. A culture rooted in great ideas filled with smiling faces, pleasant greetings, superb service, good intent and plenty of generosity. (And don’t even get me started with the abundance of free food and, of course, happy hours :)). A culture that is like none other; it’s almost surreal. A culture that begs for participation and strives on spirit. A culture that is irreplaceable. Zappos Culture – a culture worth the experience.”
© 2008 Zappos.com, Inc.

For more “WOW!” check out the ‘Inside Zappos’ blog … and while you’re at it, shop around Zappos.com to get a customer’s perspective.

3 Comments

  • Jon Dubbs February 24, 2009 Reply

    Enthusiasm is contagious when it is genuine and articulated and when given a proper platform for expression. This takes effort and planning. The reverse result takes place when management does nothing. Follow Sybil’s three R’s (Respect-Recognition-Reinforcement) as part of energising a Company.

  • Sybil December 6, 2008 Reply

    Thanks, Becky. Another gem about Zappos is that the folks who work in the Customer Loyalty Center are so well trained, they don’t need a standard script. This allows them to focus on REALLY listening to their customers instead of paying attention to a message tree (e.g., if customer says X, respond this way; if customer says Y, respond another way, etc.). I look forward to hearing your impressions after your visit to Zappos.

  • Becky Carroll December 6, 2008 Reply

    Sybil,
    What a great series of 3 posts on Zappos! I hope to get a chance to tour them at some point in the near future. I especially like the naming of their call center “Customer Loyalty Center”. To me, this really tells it like it is – when our customers call in, we have an opportunity to earn (or lose) their loyalty.
    Great job, Sybil! You ARE a VIP. 🙂

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