Don’t Make Promises You Cannot Deliver

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I was recently alerted to this communications from Zappos Canada. As many of you know, Zappos is often referred to as a gold standard in customer experience and this is one of the reasons why.

Hey, everyone. While we often have fun things to talk about in this space, we sometimes have less pleasant topics to share.

We have made the difficult decision to shut down the canada.zappos.com site and stop shipping to Canada. One of our core values is to “deliver WOW through service”. That means the best selection of brands and products that can meet just about every individual’s needs as well as fast, free shipping and free returns, all at competitive pricing. Our Canadian customers know that we have not lived up to these service levels.

Product selection on canada.zappos.com is limited due to distribution agreements with the brands we sell in the United States. In addition, we have struggled with general uncertainty and unpredictability of delivering orders to our Canadian customers given customs and other logistics constraints.

We would like to thank our loyal Canadian customers and are sorry that we will not be able to serve you in the same way. Beginning April 1, 2011, we will no longer ship orders from canada.zappos.com. Some of you may have electronic certificates with open balances. If that is the case, please be sure to redeem them prior to April 1, 2011. Of course, as always, we will still be accepting your orders placed from Canada and shipping to US addresses on www.zappos.com. Customers can always reach us 24/7 by calling 1-800-927-7671 or emailing [email protected].

Thank you for reading this. While you may not like our decision, we hope you understand the reasons.

Chris Nielsen
CFO, COO
Zappos.com, Inc.

My Perspective: Zappos has clearly established a very high standard for their customer experience. They decided that because they cannot achieve this standard in Canada they must change their operating procedure to ensure the integrity of their brand promise is not compromised.

They are still willing to provide service to their Canadian customers — but now they will be served as international customers, according to international standards.

They explained their reasoning clearly and without apology — making sure that it was understood that it was their service promise to “deliver WOW through service” that was potentially being compromised — which they weren’t prepared to do.

Based on a survey of 1 — the person who informed me of this change — their service was historically very good (good selection, shipping in 2-3 days) and they were more than happy with that service level. However, they were even more impressed that Zappos took the position they did. They plan to still shop at Zappos.com (with more selection and maybe longer shipping) and are fine with the international standards.

As a result of the way Zappos handled this transition, customer loyalty was increased — even while the service level was decreased.

Zappos remained true to their core values. Honesty. Commitment to core values. Key building blocks in building strong loyal customer relationships.

Bravo Zappos. You “delivered a WOW through service” even in this circumstance.

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