We have insisted countless times that customer service is a key element that determines the degree of satisfaction of our customers and their loyalty to the brand. Poor customer service generates dissatisfaction and discourages buyers from continuing to consume a product or contract a service because they consider that it is not worth going through an unhappy or directly unsatisfactory experience with the company.
Well, it is precisely to inspire other companies that we decided to tell today's case study: the story of Zappos, a shoe company that is not like other companies since it stands out for the best customer service known in the business world (and we think that is not an exaggeration).
In this article, we tell you how this company emerged; it continues to grow and its main philosophy is to satisfy the needs of its customers. In addition, we will talk about what is the secret of its success by making minimal investments in marketing and advertising campaigns.
The beginnings of this prestigious company date back to the need to buy shoes from its founder when he was not yet thinking of being an entrepreneur. It turns out that one day Nick Swinmurn was walking around a San Francisco shopping center looking to buy some shoes that he liked and couldn't find.
In the search for the dream model, he checked every internet catalog he found without results. That got him thinking: if the shoes he wanted didn't exist, why not create them himself?
Driven by necessity, it was then that Nick became the founder of a shoe company and began to take his first steps in the world of business, creating the shoe retailer shoesite.com, which would later become Zappos.
The name change responds to the idea of a derivative of the word shoes that was conceived in conjunction with CEO Tony Hsieh to expand the original concept of the first name and raise the possibility of selling more products in the future.
A philosophy focused on making the customer happy
Getting customers to have a happy experience would not be possible if the company's workers were not happy too. The equation is simple: happy employees provide better customer service, and the result is happier customers.
The Zappos philosophy consists of maintaining, above all, a very pleasant, fun, camaraderie and, above all, collaborative work environment. At Zappos, employees help each other and there is no need for internal skills because everyone's skills are equally important for the growth of the company.
In addition to this, it should be noted that Zappos' corporate culture promotes a horizontal organizational structure, where all collaborators work by objectives instead of by managers. In this way, the hierarchies in this business model are dissolved and the employees reduce stress when they feel that their actions are recognized and have the same value as those of the managers.
Being motivated, Zappos employees answer more than 5,000 calls a month and more than 1,000 emails a week. Customer service does not stick to a script to always answer the same thing to its customers when they call to answer their questions. They can have 5-minute phone calls, as well as 10-hour calls, as their record became.
With this feedback, Zappos employees earn the trust of their customers because they show that they care about them and that they will do everything possible to provide effective solutions to their problems and, above all, they will make them not afraid to ask their concerns because they are to solve them 24/7.
Product distribution and return policy
One of the main differences between Zappos and the rest of its competitors is that they offer free shipping and product returns to make transactions easier. For example, customers can try on several pairs of shoes free of charge until they find the one they like.
In the meantime, you have up to 365 days to make the appropriate returns on the pairs of shoes you won't buy.
Another surprising aspect that places Zappos as the best customer service is that it is so unusually honest that, if it cannot satisfy its customers with a shoe model that meets their needs, it sends these customers to the competition. Imagine the surprise of your customers with an action that is considered suicidal in the business world.
But that outpouring of honesty, in the long run, benefits them by bringing customers back. As you will see, they invest much more in offering better customer service than in their marketing campaigns. In a nutshell, their goal is to invest in increasing the human connection with customers.
Personalized customer service: Telephone calls
While many companies invest large sums of money in chatbots and artificial intelligence, Zappos promotes interaction with customers in a personalized way, to make them feel heard and understood. For the company, phone calls are the key to building lasting relationships with customers.
Also, unlike many companies that seek to reduce the number of daily phone calls, Zappos does the opposite, activating mechanisms to facilitate telephone contact. Hence, people have internalized the treatment they receive from the company as if it were a friend or family member.
The culture of "wow"
We had anticipated that, in addition to focusing on improving customer service, Zappos is concerned with keeping its employees happy within the company, breaking down hierarchical structures to bring people closer together. In this sense, the internal culture promotes such personalized and efficient attention that it motivates the client to say “wow”, and it is very likely that they will achieve it.
Tony Hsieh, in his book Delivering Happiness, states the following about the goal of his company culture:
“What set us apart from our competitors was that we put company culture above all else. We bet that by being good to our employees we would be able to offer a better service than our competitors. Better service results in many recurring customers and this means low marketing expenses, long-term profits, and rapid growth.”
Robert Richman, co-creator of Zappos Insights, says that culture is everything at Zappos. "Culture is made up of values, values determine behavior, behavior determines actions, and actions produce results."
A business model to imitate
To conclude, our thoughts lead us to ask ourselves how many times we have worked for passion and how many times we did it just to make money. We believe that the main difference with other companies concerned with selling is that Zappos cares about better customer service and also about the satisfaction of its employees, an infallible combo to captivate the market.