In the last year Zappos customer service reps:
sent flowers to a woman who ordered shoes because her feet were damaged by harsh medical treatments
gone to a competitor’s store to get a pair of shoes because Zappos was out of stock
shipped a pair of shoes overnight for free to a best man whose alternative was a barefoot walk down the aisle.
So what made Zappos staff so prepared to go the extra mile and how could you introduce that culture to your company?
A big part of it came down to figuring out what makes people happy and helping them get there, CEP and founder Tony Hsieh said. While many people cite income and vacations as factors in their happiness, Hsieh’s research found four different key factors.
connectedness (the number and depth of your relationships); and
being part of something bigger than yourself.
According to Hsieh, it doesn’t matter what a person’s core values actually are. “What matters is that you have them and commit to them. And by committing to them, you’re willing to hire or fire based on them independent of actual job performance, he said.
He suggested that while many companies have core values, few commit to them the way Zappos does. Get that right, he said, and the rest will fall in place.
Zappos took the extraordinary step of offering trainees an incentive to leave. At the end of the first week of training they offered new workers payment for their time so far, plus a $4,000 bonus to walk away. It’s about making sure only those who are truly committed to the Zappos culture stick around. The training lasts a minimum of four weeks, and that’s for all new staff from call centre workers to senior management.
When he’s hiring Hsieh asks himself “Is this someone I would want to have a beer with?” ensuring the focus is on attitude and fit, not just ticking the right boxes on a resume.
Zappos’ “Family core values” reflect the ideas Hsieh supports – empowering employees, creating relationships and encouraging them to feel part of “something bigger”:
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 Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Have your say
Do you think taking maternity leave marks the end of a woman’s corporate ladder climb?
Are smartphones killing your staff?
Ramadan has started, is your workplace accommodating?
Lessons from Zappos: culture of customer service
What’s your wellness ROI?
Sabbatical leave: good for business?
Legal eye: Can you ask staff to take a psych evaluation?
10 hardest jobs to fill
Reward programs like you’ve never seen
Office seating should be determined by employee moods