If I play my cards right, I might be touring one of the coolest customer service companies out there next month. Zappos.com’s customer service is world-reknowned for being responsive, friendly, and well, just plain awesome. If you’ve ever ordered from them, you know what I’m talking about.

Today I found this article (via John Maeda’s blog, which I have been devouring the past few days) that outlines what is different about Zappos. It’s a few years old but definitely worth the read.

Here’s my favorite part:

There’s certainly much for students of management theory to try on at Zappos. For example, pay for call-center operators starts at a modest $11 an hour, and there are no bonuses or 401(k) matching contributions because Hsieh believes the most productive employees work for the psychic gratification in helping others. Customer service reps are given plenty of freedom. They may chat for hours with customers, write thank-you notes, send flowers, and even direct shoppers to rival Web sites if an item is out of stock. In a tough year for retail, sales are up by double digits.

Zappos rep Michelle Robles recently showed a reporter how the approach works. She offers coupons and free shipping to one unhappy customer while grabbing a returned pair of shearling boots for another. Robles knows her top priority is to establish an emotional connection. More than 95% of Zappos’ transactions take place over the Web, so each actual phone call is a special opportunity. “They may only call once in their life, but that is our chance to wow them,” Hsieh says.

As a “student of management theory” (yes, I actually am…) I find this fascinating. Being able to motivate workers (especially without bonuses or 401k matching!) is one of the most difficult skills to acquire, and it sounds like Tony Hsieh has done it, and done it well.

What do you think about Zappos? Would you want to work for them?

I’ll let you know if I’m able to tour the facility.

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2 Responses to Customer Service Done Right: Zappos

  1. If I wasn’t happy in my job, yeah, this sounds like a great company to work for!

    I recently ordered from Zappos and first was very happy to see that I could track my order through UPS. But my shoes didn’t come (or so I thought) and the tracking number wasn’t working. I called the company, surprised that I found an actual phone number on their website, as so many online companies don’t offer this, and they immediately looked up my order and found who signed for it. They sent me new shoes because I didn’t have mine, didn’t charge me anything and said if the other package turned up I could send them back free shipping. Later, it turns out my apartment complex had the package and didn’t leave a message in my mailbox.

    While still on the phone with them they THEN upgraded me to be a VIP Zappos member! It wasn’t their fault, but they said I had to go through the trouble of calling them to get my shoes. The customer service rep was amazing and very friendly and chatty, asking how my day was as he looked up my information, what I do for a living, just having a nice conversation. It actually kind of made my night that this person was so friendly and didn’t give me any trouble about the delivery mix-up. Now, reading this article I understand why they were so friendly. More companies need to be this way!

    And the extra pair of shoes they sent made it to me the VERY NEXT DAY.

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