“Customer service is part of the marketing budget”.
This quote is something I heard while taking the Zappo’s tour in Las Vegas.
A company that went from zero to over $1 Billion in annual sales is a company to model…so I took the tour and read Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness – A Path to Profits, Passion, And Purpose. Tony sold his company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $265 billion in 1999. Soon after, he joined Zappos as an advisor, investor, and eventually, CEO. Zappos appeared on Fortune Magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list in 2009, and shortly thereafter, Zappos was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 Billion.
Most articles you read here are about marketing and business growth strategies. Well…if you take the Zappo’s tour and read Tony Hsieh’s book, you will understand that making customers service expenses a part of the marketing budget, is a marketing and business growth strategy.
Many of the people that take the tour will tell you about the crazy decorations, rainbow of colors, and the physical atmosphere. Although all of that is something to talk about, the big takeaway for me was the outstanding attitudes of the employees. They were all helpful, fun, entertaining, informative, and they were happy to be at work. Every employee looked you in the eye and said hello with a big smile even if they were just passing by or on a phone call. The employees on the phone might only lip sync the hello part because they had a customer on the line but the intent was there as was the smile and eye contact. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to see me. Others in our tour group felt the same way. In the economic climate we are living in today you would think all businesses would make it a priority to make guests and customers feel welcome. A smile is FREE to give to someone else and yet it goes a looooooong way. A great attitude is also FREE and it also goes a long way. Of course a smile is free for an individual to give but it may not be totally free to Zappos to have all smiling employees.
Apply to work at Zappos and if after a short time, they determine you are not a fit to work there, they will offer you $2,000 to quit! Yes I said, to QUIT! If this makes you shudder at the thought, consider this…
How much does an employee with a negative infectious attitude cost you over a period of time? A negative employee
can bring down morale and infect everyone around them. This gets passed on to the customer. If you sell high priced items it may be easier for you to accept that a $2,000 payout to get rid of an employee is a deal. If you have profit margins that equate to $3,000 per sale then a sale earned that otherwise would have been lost due to negative employee attitudes…equals a $1,000 gain.
Question – But what if you sell lower priced items?
Answer – Zappos is known primarily as a shoe company.
I am not suggesting that simply paying to get rid of employees that are not a fit is the only answer. That is not the whole story of Zappos but it’s a rare example to study. Zappos also offer continuous training to their employees. They have an in-house Life Coach that works with employees on their goals…and not just their goals within the Zappos family and culture.
A happy employee is more likely to give the type of customer service that will keep your customer coming back. If you are consistently throwing money at marketing/advertising without the customer service and happy employees in place, take the Zappos tour and consider the additional training that is offered. This way, the Marketing Consulting you invest in will lead to more sales as happy employees build relationships with your newly introduced leads and customers.