Delivering Loyalty: 10 Ways Zappos.com Creates Happy Employees

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Getting a job at Zappos.com today is more than a dream for many; it is a one in a 100-person opportunity.

Those are basically the odds of landing a position at what is one of the most popular retailers today. Last year, Zappos’ took 25,000 applications for 250 job openings. This year it expects to take 30,000 applications for 300 openings.

Such numbers are the result of a simple but pure philosophy, of founder Tony Hsieh, to create a company he not only is happy to come to every day, but that he loves. This is why Zappos made Fortune Magazine’s list of Best Places to Work in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I was able to tour the Zappos’ headquarters and call center. Among the many things I learned, I saw that at Zappos, customer intimacy begins with employee loyalty. So while last week I listed the 10 Loyalty Lessons I picked up at Zappos, today I will follow up with the 10 ways Zappos engages its 1,400 employees – 650 of whom work in its call center.

1: Extensive training

Every Zappos employee, regardless of department, goes through four weeks of on-board training across various departments, including the call center. And because each Zappos employee is trained on the phones, the company does not need to bring in extra labor during peak holiday periods. Instead, all employees voluntarily take customer calls for 10 hours.

2: The offer

Tony Hsieh wants all of his workers to be a good fit. So in the third week of training, each trainee gets “the offer” to leave Zappos (the offer varies from a few hundred to a thousand dollars). If the employee does not feel Zappos is a good fit, he or she can take the money and leave, no hard feelings, no questions asked.

3: Let your hair down

For creative employees, Zappos encourages personal expression in many ways. Workstations are marked with overhead license plates that carry the worker’s name and hire date. Employees decorate the conference rooms, and they take frustrations out on Bob, the mannequin punching bag. Where’s the boss? Hsieh’s desk is on Monkey Row, covered in jungle vines.

4: Good eats

No one goes hungry at Zappos. Lunches are served free every day, including drinks, sandwiches, soups and salads (a hot lunch will cost $3). Need a snack? Cookies, candy bars and ice cream also are free and plentiful, almost like a convenience store with its doors wide open. The one discretionary item employees have to pay for is Red Bull.

5: A life coach

Inside Zappos, life and work mesh together, so the company employs a full-time life coach to consult workers on business and personal issues. Classes of 20 participate in goal-setting programs, and upon graduation they write their achieved goals in a special hall of fame. The success rate is 98.2 percent.

6: Recognition

Zappos has a Desk of Epic Glory – need we say more? In addition to this desk for outstanding employees, the company provides a throne for life coach graduates, and a monthly company parade to honor employee “Heroes.” For those who prefer tangible recognition, there’s the Zollar Store, where employees redeem Zollars earned through goal achievement.

7: Trust

One of the few goals at Zappos call center is to answer 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds. After that, the clock is off. The company trusts its employees to spend as much time as necessary to achieve the best outcome. Call times and productivity are tracked, but there are no requirements, which can mean some long call times – the longest was 8.5 hours.

8: Empowerment

Every employee at Zappos’ is provided the tools and mentorship to become a senior leader in five to seven years. But it is up to them to get there. Workers are free to make career-defining customer decisions, even it that choice is to send free shoes or make personal greeting cards.

9: Well-being and Balance

At Zappos, employees are almost required to feel good, whether that means catching 40 winks in the nap room or getting work done while sitting on an exercise ball. All workstations are ergonomically designed for employees – regardless of if they stand, perch on a ball or sit on the floor. Zappos also is experimenting with a work-at-home program.

10: The Culture

Culture is the big attraction, and Zappos works hard to foster it. A group of volunteers, called the Culture Club, actually develops cost-free ideas to improve the company culture. The Wishez Wall, for instance, encourages employees to post wishes (a math tutor, a sewing table) and others fulfill them. Each year, these activities are commemorated in an annual Culture Book.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bryan Pearson
Retail and Loyalty-Marketing Executive, Best-Selling Author
With more than two decades experience developing meaningful customer relationships for some of the world’s leading companies, Bryan Pearson is an internationally recognized expert, author and speaker on customer loyalty and marketing. As former President and CEO of LoyaltyOne, a pioneer in loyalty strategies and measured marketing, he leverages the knowledge of 120 million customer relationships over 20 years to create relevant communications and enhanced shopper experiences. Bryan is author of the bestselling book The Loyalty Leap: Turning Customer Information into Customer Intimacy

5 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent post…

    If I were to add one more to your excellent list – I would add “Hire carefully”. And I would make it first on the list.

    My understanding is that Zappos hires very, very carefully. People that get on the “bus” there know what they are getting into and the selection process is supposedly quite challenging to get through relative to most jobs.

    So many companies I see hire from the gut and only do one or perhaps two interviews without a valid personality assessment. Big, big mistake.

    Nothing happens without great talent in the first place.

    And if there were a 12th one – reputation. Zappos has carefully cultivated a reputation of excellence in all that they do. This attracts the best talent. The best talent naturally has high standards and draws others like them in.

    Rock on…

    Chris

  2. Bryan had the opportunity many of wish for – to tour the Zappos facility and get an understanding of how they spark customer and employee loyalty.

    Two great posts here with instructive throughts for how we can run our own organizations and also how we can develop new models for customer loyalty.

    Nice work!

  3. Love of shoes! Bryan great format and insight. Thank you to Zappos for several reasons. One, allowing Bryan access to share with all of us. Second, for showing all of us what it takes to become and sustain an amazing culture of customer service. As Fred Reichheld shared in his famous book on customer loyalty – happy employees that are respected, nurtured and allowed to thrive are the ones that deliver outstanding service to valued customers.

  4. “It is not way of doing it is way of being” all this proves it I believe. It is not the cost, it is the menatlity itself..kind regards, ilmi

  5. There is a great discussion of the tactics retailers can employ in this seasonal period to attract and retain customers online today at http://www.RetailWire.com.

    Customer service was voted top of the list by the Retail Wire Brain Trust and the agreement underscores the wisdom of the Zappos philosophy.

    PS: The guest post above is mine as well. Thanks again for a great post Bryan.

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