Have you heard of Zappos? They're a US online retailer mega brand largely unknown in the UK - more often referred to as a social media pioneer in marketing circles (for Twitter usage particularly). Yet, dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that a significant strategy is under-pinning their success, and it's not all about social networks. It does however start to become obvious as to why social media know-how is natural to them and necessary to help drive marketing.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos says simply "€œWe pay more attention to our customers"€.
It"€™s this simple, profound mentality that has led to Amazon purchasing Zappos for a staggering $1.2bn in Nov 2009.
Tony goes on, "€œPeople may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel"€. This is the essence of how Zappos have achieved their phenomenal success.
Apparently, it wasn"t always this way and the Zappos Brand evolution has seen it go from simply having a strong customer focus to now being passionate about how they make their customers feel:
- 1999 Selection
- 2003 Customer Service
- 2005 Culture and Core Values as our platform
- 2007 Personal Emotional Connection
- 2009 Delivering Happiness
5 things we can take from Zappos' success
1. Customers come back, order more and more often
- On any given day, about 75% of purchases from Zappos are from returning customers
- Repeat customers order >2.5x more from in the following 12 months
- Repeat customers spend more
2. Make it easy for customers to build your brand
- Superior experience drives word of mouth, so do the unexpected
- Remove the risk of purchase and make it easy to return product for free
- Fast, accurate fulfilment is worth talking about
- Deliver an "above and beyond" customer service
- Drive people to the phone, be contactable and be open
3. Talk to people!...
- "The telephone is one of the best branding devices available"
- Take time to talk to people properly
- At Zappos there are no call times and no sales-based performance goals for sales reps
- Zappos will also pay you $2000 to quit, so only the best people who enjoy the job stay
- The Culture Book makes it clear how Zappos do business and even underpins performance management
4. Build a culture that envelops customers and internal staff"€¦
- Zappos have "committable core values" that are clear, exciting and simple
- It doesn't matter what your core values are as long as you commit to them and get internal alignment
- Commit to a culture of transparency "An Ask Anything Culture"
- Zapposinsights.com focusses on lifting the lid for customers and future employees
5. Have a vision...
- "Whatever you're thinking, think bigger", comments Tony
- Does your company vision have real meaning? Without is there little chance of achieving any of the above.
- "What would you be passionate about doing for 10 years even if you never made a dime?"
Tony concludes: If research tells Zappos that having vision, meaning and a higher purpose (as well as financial goals, we assume) leads to happiness internally and happy customers externally"€¦ then what is your company"€™s higher purpose? What is your higher purpose?
$1.2bn later, a social media power brand and publishers clamouring to tell his story, it"€™s hard to argue with him really. See his presentation here.