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Delivering Happiness | Tony Hsieh

Delivering Happiness | Tony Hsieh

  • Educate yourself. Read books and learn from others who have done it before.
  • Learn by doing. Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience.
  • Learn by surrounding yourself with talented players.
  • Just because you win a hand doesn’t mean you’re good and you don’t have more learning to do.
  • You might have just gotten lucky. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business , there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger. When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as limited to just existing airline travelers, which was what all the other airlines did . Instead, they imagined their service as something that could potentially serve all the people who traveled by Greyhound bus or by train, and they designed their business around that. They offered short flights at cheap prices, instead of going with the more prevalent “hub and spoke” model that other airlines were using. They made it easy for customers to change flights without paying huge penalties. And they turned their planes around at airports as fast as possible. They succeeded because they decided to play at a different table than the one that all the other airlines were playing at.

Already, we’ve done a lot of revolutionary things that our customers love. We have the best in-stock shoe selection available anywhere, offline or online . We provide free shipping and free return shipping… for all of our customers as a standard part of our service. And although we promise our customers they will receive their shoes within 4– 5 days , we upgrade the service for almost all of our customers…. It’s not something we have to do, and it’s not something that will increase our profits in the short-term. But because it’s something that creates a great customer experience, we choose to do it, because we believe that in the long run, little things that keep the customer in mind will end up paying huge dividends.

Once you have a culture— invest in it.

To some companies, thinking long-term may be completely irrational. Spending money on printing and shipping a physical book in this technological age may sound wasteful and foolish. It’s true, it’s hard to calculate the ROI of each culture book printed. But when you’re trying to build a sustainable brand and create customer loyalty, sometimes saving money is not the point . The return you get from passionate people vouching for your company and culture, and the word of mouth that generates, is going to be intangible at the beginning. But over time, as it did for Zappos, the investment will pay off manyfold. At most Web sites, the contact information is usually buried at least five links deep and even when you find it, it’s a form or e-mail address that you can only contact once. We take the exact opposite approach. We put our phone number (1-800-927-7671) at the top of every single page of our Web site, because we actually want to talk to our customers. And we staff our call center 24/ 7. In conjunction with that, we run our warehouse 24/ 7, which actually isn’t the most efficient way to run a warehouse.

The most efficient way to run a warehouse is to let the orders pile up, so that when a warehouse worker needs to walk around the warehouse to pick the orders, the picking density is higher, so the picker has less of a distance to walk. But we’re not trying to maximize for picking efficiency. We’re trying to maximize the customer experience, which in the e-commerce business is defined in part by getting orders out to our customers as quickly as possible. Most call centers measure their employees’performance based on what’s known in the industry as “average handle time,”which focuses on how many phone calls each rep can take in a day. This translates into reps worrying about how quickly they can get a customer off the phone, which in our eyes is not delivering great customer service. Most call centers also have scripts and force their reps to try to upsell customers to generate additional revenue.

Top 10 Ways to Instill Customer Service into Your Company

  • Make customer service a priority for the whole company, not just a department. A customer service attitude needs to come from the top.
  • Make WOW a verb that is part of your company’s everyday vocabulary.
  • Empower and trust your customer service reps. Trust that they want to provide great service… because they actually do. Escalations to a supervisor should be rare.
  • Realize that it’s okay to fire customers who are insatiable or abuse your employees.
  • Don’t measure call times, don’t force employees to upsell, and don’t use scripts.
  • Don’t hide your 1-800 number. It’s a message not just to your customers, but to your employees as well.
  • View each call as an investment in building a customer service brand, not as an expense you’re seeking to minimize.
  • Have the entire company celebrate great service. Tell stories of WOW experiences to everyone in the company.
  • Find and hire people who are already passionate about customer service.
  • Give great service to everyone: customers, employees, and vendors.

We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build. You can let all of your employees be your brand ambassadors, not just the marketing or PR department. And they can be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the office. At the entry level, all we really care about is if they are passionate about the category of product their team is responsible for. For our couture team, we hire people who love reading fashion magazines. For our running team, we hire marathoners. For our outdoors team, we hire people who regularly go hiking and camping on weekends. In our merchandising department at Zappos, we used to promote employees from the entry-level position of merchandising assistant to the next level of assistant buyer after eighteen months of employment (assuming that they met all the requirements to qualify for the promotion). We later decided to give smaller incremental promotions every six months instead that together were the equivalent of the previous single promotion.

After eighteen months (three six -month periods of smaller promotions), the end result was still the same— in terms of training, certification, and pay— as the previous promotion schedule. We’ve found that employees are much happier because there is an ongoing sense of perceived progress. Studies have shown that engaged employees are more productive, and that the number of good friends an employee has at work is correlated with how engaged that employee is. In The Happiness Hypothesis, author Jonathan Haidt concludes that happiness doesn’t come primarily from within but, rather, from between. This is one of the reasons why we place so much emphasis on company culture at Zappos.

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