Delivering Wow!

21 Nov

One of the companies that I love to talk about when I present workshops is I love companies that turn the nature of business as we know it on its head. One of the tenets we go by at Wake Up! is that “Nothing has to be the way you think it is” and Zappos do this very well. They are run by CEO Tony Hseih and he has an interesting outlook to the way Zappos is run and to the employees that are employed as part of the organization.

First of all what do Zappos do? They sell shoes and sneakers online throughout the United States. They have recently included clothing as part of their online sales stock.  Nothing too out of the world about that you might say. Lots of companies sell products online, including clothing. Where Zappos began to stand out was at the formative stages of their company structure when they had decided that values were going to be an integral part of the way the approached their market. I teach students the importance of values within not only our personal lives but also within business. Companies who have a clear identity of what their values are have a greater idea of where they are going. Values are our moral compass they can also be seen as our company’s compass too. Within Zappos they are clearly defined.

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More With Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

I particularly like “Delivering Wow through Customer service” which they do with unscripted conversations at their call centre. All delivery through the United States is free which is no mean feat when you are talking 3,994 km from their warehouse in Kentucky to Seattle. If you do not like the sneakers that you purchased you have a 365 days to return them(once they are in the same state you received them) no quibble. I recently read of a customer who had contacted Zappos about returning a pair of shoes she had purchased from them. Customer service had noticed that they had still not received the shoes a few weeks after they had been contacted by the customer. When they decided to make contact with the customer they discovered that the customers mother had passed away and returning shoes was the last thing on her mind. Zappos said that they would take care of the shoes and duly sent UPS around next day to pick up the shoes. The woman was also surprised to discover that she had received a bouquet of flowers the following week with condolences from Zappos. That is customer service!!

The interview stage at Zappos has potential employees being asked “On a scale of 1-10 how weird are you?’ I am not sure about you but I might be weird, I might even be very weird but am I going to impart this information at an interview. I don’t think so. Unless it is Zappos that I am looking to be employed by. They want people who grade themselves high on the weird scale and are willing to admit it. The weirder the better. Workers can wear what they want to work and can decide to decorate their workplace in whatever manner they want. No better way to brighten up dull offices or dull souls.

Training lasts for 4 weeks where a salary is paid. On the Friday of your first week training with Zappos you will probably be asked how you enjoyed your first week with Zappos and then you will be offered $3000 to leave the company. If you don’t take up the offer this week you can avail of the offer the following week as it will be a choice you will be given each Friday of your training. Why? you ask. It makes sense to have you leave the organization at this stage rather than discovering that you are a poor fit for the company 6 months down the road when the company has invested more time and money into you. It also instills a great sense of belonging to the workers that are left, knowing that they have  all turned down the $3000 to be there.

Watch any of the videos of Zappos staff on to see a happy engaged workforce that are excited about coming to work. In a world of substandard customer service that leaves us waiting on the end of phone lines for answers to queries that make us feel maybe we where the problem in the first place, Zappos is a welcome breath of fresh air. With a turnover of over $1billion a year, a committed workforce and customers who keep happily returning. We can learn a lot from thinking different.

One Response to “Delivering Wow!”


  1. Happy Henry | Thelollipopeffect - March 28, 2013

    […] and leaders that are championing the importance of wellbeing in the workplace. Companies like Zappos with Tony Hsieh at the helm and Semco with Ricardo Semlers innovative approach to autonomy at […]


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