My colleague, David Ager, and I spent yesterday afternoon visiting Zappos, the fast-growing on-line shoe retailer. Zappos has been recognized repeatedly for its extraordinary customer service as well as its very distinctive organizational culture. We simply had to see what Zappos was all about... and we learned a great deal during our visit.
I had heard so much about Zappos' ten core values, which are at the heart of its unique culture and commitment to exceptional customer service. What struck me most, though, was how every employee we met could rattle off the core values. Not only that, but they seemed incredibly committed to bringing these values alive each and every day. These people absolutely loved the company and their jobs.
We also heard legendary stories of how Zappos "delivers WOW through service." One person, for instance, described multiple occasions when employees have spent HOURS on the phone with a customer to help them find just the right shoes that they wanted. In another example, a woman bought shoes for her husband, but he died right after the order was placed. The Zappos' employee not only helped her return the shoes and get her money back, but also sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers to the funeral.
The work environment proved quite unique. Each group decorates its own workspace, and each group had a unique greeting for us as we toured the offices. People freely answered so many of our questions, and they wanted to share their knowledge with us. Zappos talks a great deal about the importance of passion, and we certainly saw a great deal of evidence of passion for the company and its mission.
Perhaps most interestingly, we learned that many much larger companies are trying to learn about Zappos, and trying to understand how they deliver such an exceptional customer experience.
For more on Zappos and its core values, you might wish to view this video: