March 24th, 2009
I just read about the online shoe store Zappos on FastCompany, #20 on their this year’s top 50 most innovative companies. I was quite taken by their services and their employee policy. I think there are still lots to learn and still lots of opportunities out there if we get the mix right – customers and staff.
They offer “Free shipping BOTH ways, 365-day return policy, 24/7 customer service” – because of this people are less scared to buy or order more than one pair at a time. These guys took away the pain of ordering shoes online. Imagine buying a pair of shoes and turns out to be really weird colour, or the leg is too tight for those boots that looked great on the website. You would think twice about buying them as you don’t know if you can return it, let alone for free. They also give you 365 days to do it. I think a lot of people would decide not to return it or give it to someone else. But the idea that you can do this removes the barrier of buying it, while Zappos is building its brand and getting repeat customers.
With new employees, they offer a $2000 US bonus if they want to leave after a one month paid training program. The CEO says on FastCompany, “It’s best to know early if an employee doesn’t buy into the vision or the culture. It just makes economic sense”. Remember those people you knew in your heart just didn’t fit and you didn’t have the heart to tell them? and they also feel obligated to stay? well, this might be your solution. Prevention is better than cure sometimes.
It’s not easy to make a call like this, but if you really believe in what you do and want to run a profitable business, you need a strong focus on what you want to deliver for your customers and a solid staff hiring policy to support you.
Don Norman said in his keynote at UXWeek last year, 2009, that services are recursive, that there is a service behind a service. Its an operation. It’s like having a frontstage and a backstage and every backstage has another frontstage and another backstage. The experience and quality of the people at the backstage has a lot to do with your performance at the frontstage. Thus the need to have all stages, employees and customer experience, and everything else in between, aligned with each other to meet your overall goal of running your business.
Do your front and back stages align with your business goals?
p.s. Other things I like about this company: they embrace social media such as Twitter and Facebook and encourage staff to do the same. They used Twitter last year to explain some of their buisiness decisions. Seems they embrace transparency and honesty with staff which I believe are ingredients for success in these economic times.