Saturday, 29 August 2009

Customer Centricity, It's The Intent Not the Channel That Matters

Much has been said about Zappo's as a company and the culture that drives it. Even more has been said recently because of the Amazon deal of course. One of the things that most strikes me about them is their focus on really talking to their customers - going out of their way to encourage customers and potential customers to call rather than to simply fulfill on-line (a much cheaper proposition). Zappo's CEO, Tony Hsieh says of his (un- outsourced and highly trained) call center:
"We want to talk to our customers, we encourage them to call. As unsexy and low-tech as it sounds, the telephone is really powerful. Most companies look at the telephone as an expense. We look at it as one of the best branding devices out there. You have your customer's undivided attention. If you get the interaction right, if you focus not on 'closing the sale' but on doing exactly what's best for the customer, it's something they'll remember and tell their friends and family about."
The call centers operate unlike many that you or I will encounter - the CCRs have no scripts and no targets in terms of either cross-selling or time spent on calls. Of course this is but one example of the focus that Zappo's places on customer service and the deeply ingrained conviction that delighting the customer is an investment with a clearly identifiable return and not an expense to be contained.

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