Reflections from a Zappos Webinar

Jenny and Jeremy recently attended a webinar entitled “Delivering Happiness: The Zappos Customer Service Story” and wow!  If you have a pulse and remotely care for your customers, you will be inspired to communicate better with your customers by listening to what they have to say.  We are going to discuss what we learned in this blog post:

Jeremy: Hey Jenny, so this was a really cool webinar.  The first thing that stuck out to me was their use of the word WOW.  For three letters it’s such a powerful word in customer service.  I’m pondering ways to WOW our customers in every interaction even if they are just interacting with our website or FAQ or control panel.

Jenny: Hey Jeremy! I knew you’d enjoy the webinar–it’s extremely inspiring! You’re totally right, WOW is such a powerful word and the more WOW we can provide to our customers, the more it will set us apart from other phone companies. One of the first things they brought up in the webinar was “What does the customer see first?” Providing more WOW on our website where the customer most likely will view first, before even calling us, as well as in the FAQs and control panel would truly empower customers.

Jeremy: They talked about something so simple as sending customers handwritten notes, gifts or even flowers expressing gratitude or sympathy.  This gave us the idea to have a Customer Appreciation Station.  Emails of gratitude are so simple.  To send a handwritten note is such a lost art in our culture.

Jenny: The Customer Appreciation Station has two very important purposes. First, it shows that we personally care about our customers–that we see them as real people and that we’re real people just wanting to help make their lives easier. This goes hand in hand with “PEC” (Personal Emotional Connection) that Zappos discussed in their webinar. We are truly improving the customer experience by creating a personal connection between customer and employee. And, I don’t know of any phone company that does this, do you? Second, this process encourages more fun and creativity in the work place for the everyone, which is always a plus. I cannot wait to get this station set up!

Jeremy: I can totally see you taking the Customer Appreciation Station and running with it.  I thought PEC was fantastic.  In our QA process we talk about empathy quite a bit but that is a complicated term for people I think.  A lot of people look at empathy and feel they are either good at it or bad at it.  With PEC there are real techniques that can be trained like using the customer’s name and listening where it’s so easy to talk and be defensive.  That being said, I am challenged by Zappos’ onboarding process where they screen new employees thoroughly to make sure they are a fit for the culture.  Upfront cost and effort for hiring is much higher but if you get the right people in the organization they are going to stay for a long time.

Jenny: You betcha! PEC is amazing to me—it makes the customer experience “real” for more people. While empathy is one of my personal strengths, for others that may not have this, the word itself puts a focus on “emotions” which might make some people uncomfortable. Being real about it by having a list of “Ways to be Empathetic without being Emotional” with things such as saying the customer’s name, apologizing for issues and frustration, asking how their day is and how the weather is where they are, etc. would be beneficial! Hiring for culture is so important too—I love the family feel that we have at our office (I personally feel like I have a room full of big brothers) and to hire someone who might not like that or be used to it, would be awkward. I think every “new” employee should go to The Rebbies (our version of the Dundies, made famous by “The Office”) to get an idea of our “culture”!

Jeremy: I think a final AHA! moment for me in the presentation was when they were talking about how agent time is spent.  They mentioned that 80% of their time was to be spent interacting with customers whether it be over phone, email or chat.  I so often reduce those interactions to answering phones or doing emails and chats.  This totally reframed the way I think about those mediums.  We aren’t just doing those things to be done, our agents are interacting directly with our customers.  Every interaction is an opportunity to WOW or push them away.  Customers aren’t objects or stats.  They are real people using our service in need of being wow’ed.

Jenny: You’re great with stats! I must admit, what I took away from this was the WOW factor and how to give that to each and every customer. It’s always been my goal but I never really had a way to put it into words that sounded cool.

Jeremy: Thanks Jenny.  These pictures are kind of over the top but I guess you’re getting into the Zappos spirit.  It’s been great chatting.  We’ll have to do this again some time.

 

Jenny: Oh you’re welcome. I’m sure there will be more of that with this blog! 🙂 Zappos spirit is contagious! This has been fun! Until next time!

 

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is also the co-founder the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

6 comments

  • WOW! We could really use a couple of wowzas like you at Phone.com.

  • Just thought I’d get my 2 words in, lol. This blog was wonderful. In all my years of working with people at school, assisting to the needs of very wealthy and important customers in my Father’s Pharmacy,in conferences I set up, conventions or being a Hostess in an Italian Restaurant, what you talk about is oh, so important. First impressions are just that…what the customer, vendor or a job interview sees that first second is what they keep in their heads. That WOW factor is indeed a huge part of what working with people is all about. Make them feel special; calling them by their name or greeting them with a big smile takes the cake. Even if that particular person does not get the job or sell you supplies and merchandise for your store/business, they will still have the memory of that first great impression in their minds. You two sound like you enjoyed the seminar, and the suggestions that were taken with you that day will be awesome once you use them even without thinking eventually. Just remember, WOW when you turn it upside down, spells, MOM….had to get that in. I miss working with people at conventions, etc. but things change. Best of luck and let me know how it works. I know your company will take that WOW and run with it!

    • Hey Beth, thank you so much for your insight here. It’s amazing how WOW translates across any industry. Thank you for reading our blog. Have a great day.

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