I’m usually try before buying and that’s exactly what I did a couple of weeks ago when, during my road trip along California and Nevada, I visited Zappos’ headquarter in Las Vegas. But let’s start from the beginning.
At the end of my MBA, just before leaving for the US, I had started reading the book “Delivering Happiness” where Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos Inc, describes how focusing the company on providing an excellent customer experience made the Company successful.
Since the early stages of Zappos’ life, Tony decided to setup the business over a corporate culture aimed at providing a happier life to those people who got in contact with the Company. Customers, Providers and Employees are the core stakeholders of this philosophy. For instance, every activity is thought and executed in order to satisfy any customer need, therefore there are no time limit for telephone customer reps. I personally met an ex customer rep, Dani, who stayed 4 hours, yes four hours!, on the phone. She attended a customer who called to buy some shoes and ended up telling her about a personal problem.
To give you another example, in case a customers calls and Zappos doesn’t have the product that he/she is looking for, the customer rep recommends third parties’ online and physical shops where he/she can find the product. That’s completely amazing! Have you ever seen any company recommending one or more of its competitors?
Regarding the relationship with Providers, Zappos has understood that they are business partners who can add value and expertise to their business. Zappos doesn’t squeeze them as most of the companies do. On the contrary they look for win-win solutions that make both successful. For instance Providers can access to an Extranet that allows them to customize the contents and images related to their products sold on Zappos website. In this way Zappos take advantage of the skills and the product know how of its partners and allow them to boost sales. Lastly, every year Zappos organizes a huge party at Las Vegas where every Provider is invited. Sounds cool!
Last but not least, employees are the strategic engine of the Company and for this reason Tony has always taken care of the highest alignment between the business strategy and the human capital management strategy. All the recruited people must match the core values described below. In some cases, top performing professionals haven’t been hired because of the mismatch with them. Actually Tony knew since the beginning that hiring a person who didn’t fit with the corporate culture, would had defiled the business practices.
Currently employees at Zappos are free to express their selves and their professionalism. Of course there are processes ans in any other corporation, but employees are encouraged to propose improvements and new ways of executing the business. The environment is pretty informal and each employee has one free hour per day by contract that can dedicate to any other activity they want like running, reading or learning another job from another department. Can you believe it?
In order to keep the Company growing according to his vision, Tony and his team decided to explicitly define the core values from which developing their culture, brand, and business strategies. Since then, each employee at Zappos embraces the following 10 core values and every activity is developed according to them:
In the book there’s a nice story and example of how these 10 values are applied to a person who called to order a pizza, but I don’t want to take you away the pleasure to read it. More info about the 10 core values.
Have I managed to induce you a little curiosity about Zappos? If yes, I wish it will inspire you in the same way it has been with me. Maybe you won’t have time to go to Vegas to visit the Company, however you can believe me: it is exactly how I have described it above. Just awesome!
Let me know! 😉