The story of Tony Hsieh is the story of Zappos. The story of how delivering happiness can lead the path to profits, passion, and purpose. The story of how you build a $1 billion company in less than 10 years by focusing on customer service, core values, and treating people with a little respect
Customer Service Rules:
Tony and Zappos decided at one point that their prime focus would be on customer service. Rather than spending their money on advertising, they would invest it into customer service and customer experience instead. Instead of trying to make themselves look good, they would actually try to improve their service. Here are a few of the ways they are changing the rules of business:
- In the United States, they offer free shipping both ways so that you can order all the shoes you like, and return the ones you don’t want.
- They also offer a 365-day return policy**.**
- They make it incredibly easy to contact a real human being. They train their employees to spend as much time on the phone as they need in order to deliver a WOW experience to their customers.
Creating a culture:
All that talk about how important your culture is is quite true. To determine what their culture was at Zappos, they did the simple task of asking. They would ask everybody at the company a simple question: in a few paragraphs or less, what does Zappos culture mean to you? Then, except for correcting typos, they would leave it unedited and publish everything in a book. Through this, they were able to define Zappos 10 core values.
- Deliver WOW through service.
- Embrace and drive change.
- Create fun and a little weirdness.
- Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.
- Pursue growth and learning.
- Build an Open and Honest Relationship with Communication.
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.
- Do More With Less.
- Be Passionate and Determined.
- Be Humble.
As evidenced by the stories that Zappos employees tell about these core values, they just don’t hang on a wall somewhere, they actually live them at work and throughout their entire lives.
Hsieh found that at Zappos they viewed every shipment that left the warehouse as “Happiness in a box”. They started to apply science to how they were able to do this. They found some research that stated there are 4 things that truly impact happiness: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness, and vision/meaning.
- Perceived Control.
When you believe you have more control over the things in your life, the happier you are. Zappos applies this thinking into how they give out raises. They created 20 different skillsets for their reps to learn. Every time one of them completed a skill set, they would get a raise. This left rep in control of how often and how many raises they wished to accomplish.
- Perceived Progress.
It doesn't matter where you look in your life, you are looking for progress. At Zappos, they’ve taken this principle and applied it to their promotion structure. They changed from prompting employees every 18 months to every 6 months instead. These new promotions were smaller than before. However, the increased frequency of promotions motivated and inspired their employees through constant perceived progress
Engaged employees are more productive. This is why there is such an emphasis on culture at Zappos. They create more connections, more happiness, and more productivity.
Having a higher purpose in life is strongly correlated to how happy you are. These people are consistently more successful than those motivated solely by extrinsic rewards like money.
These are a few great ways you can build your brand and build your culture, as well as deliver happiness to your employees and your customers.