Zappos.com on Customer Service & WOM

Posted on: November 17, 2008

Experience Matters posted a summary of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s 2008 WOM Marketing Summit speech on how is company excels in customer service and how word-of-mouth works for them. Reading through the list of core company values, I just kept thinking ‘yes, yes, yes’. It makes sense.

  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.

Most eye-catching part of his advice to me was the part about the new employee training. Zappos sends new employees to a customer loyalty bootcamp. At the end of these 5 weeks, employees are offered $2,000 to quit. A small percentage actually take the dough and leave, but this doesn’t worry Zappos. The desire is for Zappos to hire only the people who really care about their customers, so if this number were higher, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

These are four pieces of advice Hsieh shared with the audience:

  1. Chase the vision, not the money… “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.”
  2. Repeat customers are the lifeblood… “Great product, great service or low prices – choose and focus on 2 of the 3).”
  3. Transparency… “Be real, and you have nothing to fear.”
  4. Culture… “Create committable core values.”

All great values a successful company should have, especially the idea of transparency. If, at the heart of a company’s product/service is something real, something of value, and something that matters to the audience, forging a positive pathway for company success should happen organically. Being honest and up front in the face of any overall company faultyness (poor product usage, pr snafus, etc) can’t hurt, either.


3 Responses to "Zappos.com on Customer Service & WOM"

Hi Courtney,

Thank you for picking up on our piece about Zappos. While the conference that Tony spoke about was all about word of mouth marketing, his talk really tore through all the hype to get to the fact that it’s all about your business, culture and commitment to core values – coming from the top-down, permeating throughout the entire organization.

If you want to get a hold of the company’s culture book, send them an email at culturebook@zappos.com and mention that you heard about via word of mouth. 😉

Include your mailing address and they’ll send the book to you for free.


Thanks, Scott. I already pinged Zappos. I hope I read about examples of no.3 above – the weirdness value. Weird is good and in my mind, can really help fuel creative thinking.

I received the book a few days after this post. A nice little touch (an extra ‘We have time to acknowledge you, even in the smallest way.’) – Tony signed my book with a cheerful note. That’s the little stuff I like from companies who provide a service to me. 🙂

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