If you’ve ever purchased a product from Zappos.com , you know the company isn’t over flashy. It’s merely an online retail store showcasing famous, branded products such as Calvin Klein bags and Adidas running shoes.
On the outside, Zappos appears to be an average retail company with a presence that’s similar to its rivals. And still, Zappos is a household name — one that surpassed $1 billion in sales within a decade. Besides, over 75% of overall purchases of the company come from returning customers. Not only has Zappos built a brand full of loyal customers, but they are also the promoters. Why?
It is because of Zappos’ customer service strategy. The primary force behind the company is the team of customer service representatives who deliver excellent service to customers. And those reps sustain in a culture powered by empowerment.
How Did Zappos Manage to Build Such a Strong Customer Base?
Tony Hsieh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zappos, takes an unusual approach to customer service. Zappos’ customer service is built on one objective: to deliver customer delight and happiness.
Given below are the five most important lessons you can learn from Zappos’ customer-first approach. These will tell how Zappos managed to build such a solid customer base.
1. Your Company’s Values Should Always Matter to You
Zappos built a set of core objectives that lives at the top of their company culture. Moreover, they unite every employee around those key values and shared purpose. Interview candidates are thoroughly interviewed and screened to ensure their values are in line with those of Zappos. Besides, they test this by offering around $2,000 to quit after two weeks of training.
If the employee refuses to take the payout after two weeks, the company leaders introduce them to a different way of work. Those who choose to stay on are engrossed in a culture of caring and friendship with management teams who respect their employees.
To build an excellent culture, companies and organizations need to develop a set of core company values to rally around. Create a leadership purpose that blends your company objectives with your employee well-being and performance.
2. Empower Your Employees to Offer Unique Solutions to Customers
Would you allow your customer service representatives to do the following without flinching?
Talk to a customer for over 10 hours.
Send “get well soon” flowers to a customer’s sick mother.
Send an empowering package to a soldier in Afghanistan who wanted to exchange his shoes.
Zappos’ Customer Service does. The company loosens the reins and keeps its employees near its customers. And by doing so, the company is setting a bar for an extraordinary customer service experience. It is crucial to note that employee empowerment doesn’t come naturally. It takes dedicated coaching and training to let employees make on-the-spot decisions that benefit customers and the company.
The key here is to promote a solid coaching and training culture rather than supporting strict rules and procedures. When experienced customer service reps always have to ask for permission or approval, they don’t feel trusted. Moreover, this kind of environment builds a negative experience for the agents.
3. Focus on Your Customers Rather than the Metrics
Zappos’ customer service reps love their jobs because they’re driven to get creative to deliver extraordinary customer service. It isn’t about a mere email conversation that delivers short-term happiness. The company’s customer service reps pride themselves on delivering long-term happiness and satisfaction. And this implies taking the conversation outside of their short customer service interactions.
The company has a particular space on its website where customer service reps can share their customer stories. For example, one story focuses on how an agent was on a 10-hour phone call to help customers with their issues.
Besides, with stories of positive customer service and thank you cards, you can see how much representatives focus on making a positive impact.
4. Solid Return Policies
This may be an understatement. The company offers a 365-day return policy for customers who have issues committing or making up their minds.
Keeping customers at the core helps them build a solid customer base and makes a customer keep coming back.
5. Easy-to-Find Customer Service Contact
Zappos doesn’t make it difficult for people to reach them. Many websites bury customer service numbers multiple links deep, and even when you get to it, it’s a contact form that you have to fill up.
The company makes an unusual approach. They put the customer service contact info right at the top of every single page of their website because they actually want to understand and listen to the customers.
Besides, they staff their contact center 24/7.
As you continue improving your customer service, look to Zappos as a role model. The company didn’t just build an identity; they developed a community-driven by a strong culture, ambitions, and fun. Zappos focused on customers, even at the expense of its sales, and became a company to be reckoned with.
The first step to mastering Zappos’ customer service skills is to adopt the right customer service tool for your business. For instance, an Omnichannel customer service tool will provide customers with improved service, thereby building strong and long-lasting relationships with them. Moreover, it supports a best-in-class AI design for exceptional and integrated customer experiences.