CX lessons from Zappos

Jeremy DSouza
min read
CX lessons from Zappos

Organizations with an unwavering focus on customer experience are the ones whom we can really learn a lot from. Zappos happens to be one of them.

Like its parent company, Amazon, their CX is the stuff of legend. Here are the most important things you could learn from them.

Customer obsession

Zappos is obsessed with making their customers happy. Most other organizations look at Customer Service as a cost centre. But that’s not the route Zappos took. If you need any proof about it, just take a look at their logo and you’ll see ‘Powered by service’ right below it.

They’ve always maintained that they’re not a shoe retail company. They’re a service company that just happens to sell shoes (along with clothing, handbags, accessories and whatever else they decide to sell in the future).

Their key focus has always been on amazing their customers and delivering WOW. 

Reducing friction

Way back, when the company was still called ‘’, they realized that customer friction was holding them back.

The friction was in the form of fear. This was in the time when customers were hesitant about shopping online because they weren’t sure that they’d like what they got. And since the norm was that customers paid for shipping, it wasn’t affordable for them to try the products.

So, Zappos did something that was unheard of. They offered free shipping and returns.

They managed to reduce customer friction by doing this and customers started ordering, trying and even keeping more shoes.

Breaking down silos

The Zappos team has no organization chart and no titles. They manage themselves, work together  and do their best for the customers.

This always the employees that are closest to the customers and understand them the best to make operational decisions.

While Holacracy worked for Zappos, it might not be the best fit for every organization. But, it's always good to get rid of silos so that your team can understand customers in a deeper manner and serve them better.

Understanding customers as people

Its all about getting a deep, holistic understanding of your customers. Breaking silos becomes extremely important here.

THey say that you can’t understand as individual people when you work strictly in silos. Everyone across the company needs to interact with customers in order to get into their mind. That’s probably why, especially during the holiday season, everyone in the company, including their CEO takes some amount of time to answer customer calls.

And it's not just strictly business. They’re so friendly that customers end up talking to service reps about everything they care about — their kids, pets, and even sports. This helps them create a fantastic experience, while gaining an in-depth understanding of and a personal relationship with their customers.

But, Zappos has another obsession that leads to better customer experience: employee experience.

Employee happiness

Zappos realizes that you simply can’t increase customer happiness if you have tired, demotivated, and generally unhappy employees.

So, in addition to wowing their customers, they’ve got a strong focus on making sure their employees love working for them

They help their employees with everything from surgery to adopting children, and they even have designated nap zones to make sure their energy levels are always optimal.

They even have an interesting way to promote bonding. Employees reward and recognize each other with an internal currency. These ‘Zollars’ are redeemable at the company store and are a rather interesting way of showing appreciation.

Key takeaways

Whatever business you’re in, you need to realize that you’re first in the customer service business and then you deal in whatever else you do.

Look for ways to reduce friction and make it easier for customers to do business with you. 

Make the effort to understand your customers. Use automation along with human interaction to serve them in the way they want to be served.

Make sure that everyone gets to interact with customers so that they can understand them in a better manner and curate offerings that are perfectly suited to their needs.

And, make sure to take care of your employees so that they’re in the right mental and emotional state to take care of your customers.

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