March 25, 2012

Appreciation Marketing – Delivering Happiness

In his book, Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh writes about the journey of his company, Zappos, from his childhood to the selling of the company to Amazon.  The backbone of the story involves the creation of a corporate culture that believes in customer service and making the buying experience as much a pleasure as the delivery of the product.

Zappos is a shoe buying site on the internet which provides free shipping in the United States to the customer when they buy from Zappos.  They also provide free return shipping when the customer decides to return a product to Zappos.  In other words, if you order several pairs of shoes in different colors, styles, or sizes, which are shipped free, you can make your choice upon receipt of your order, and return the remainder of the order to Zappos, via free shipping, as long as your return is made within 365 days.

When was the last time a company provided free shipping upon return of your order?  There are several companies, Land’s End and LL Bean being two, who provide free shipping of an order, but I only know one who allows free return shipping.  This is another method of taking care of the customer in an exceptional manner, making it easier for the customer to do business with a company.

Furthermore, there is a unique buying experience when ordering from Zappos.  They often upgrade the customer’s order to qualify for more immediate shipping than the normal version.  Also, the customer service representatives are not graded on how many customers with whom they speak during any set time period.  They are encouraged to speak with a customer as long as it takes to provide great customer service.  In addition, Zappos does not attempt to up-sell you when you place an order like most call centers instruct their employees.

There are other aspects of the company that deviate from the practices of other businesses.  Zappos operates its warehouse 24 hours every day, 7 days/week, processing orders during all hours of the day and night.  Call center employees do not have scripts; instead, they let their employees develop customer relations on their own.  The call center employees also can refer customers to other companies if Zappos if out of stock on a particular item, researching al least 3 other companies for the customer.

All these aspects of the Zappos story are examples of the culture at the company, that culture’s commitment to customer service, the decision to empower, and trust, employees to do whatever it takes to represent the company well and build customer relations, and the choice to share corporate information with customers, employees, and even vendors.  This is a commitment to establishing relationships that evolve into partnerships with everyone in the growing success of your business.

Do you have examples of other companies establishing a similar corporate culture?  If so please leave me a comment about those companies, or email me at, or call me at 360-314-8691.  If you give great customer service and show customers that you care about them, they will remember you when they order again.  More importantly they will tell their partners, their family, and their friends all about you and how great the buying experience with you is, giving you great karma.

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