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Zappos customer service ‘core values’ sets record for longest call

Zappos’ Customer Loyalty Team repeatedly exceeds expectations of the family culture CEO Tony Hsieh envisioned as his passion for customizing customer service always remains a number one priority 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. On December 8, Customer Loyalty Team member Shaea Labus spent 10 hours and 29 minutes on a phone call. According to The Huffington Post, the call set a new record; beating out the previous record at the online shoe and apparel retailer of 8 hours and 29 minutes.

As an integral part of their unconventional and innovative customer service, Hsieh’s ideas are reflected in everything Zappos. If work shouldn’t be viewed as onerous, “being a little weird requires being a little innovative.” The call between Shaea and a customer named Lisa didn’t concern a customer service problem; it involved the caller transferring to Las Vegas and asking questions seeking information about neighborhoods, jobs, and what it’s like to live in that part of the country. Shaea stated she took one bathroom break during that time, and her teammates brought her food while she was on the call. And to Shaea’s credit, the caller did purchase a pair of Ugg boots.

There is nothing better than the human factor when calling customer service. Of course automated systems are cheaper and more efficient than hiring humans, but most customers calling in and having to deal with an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) where one must “press 1 to continue in English” becomes exasperating and confusing as the next prompt warns the caller to listen carefully because “the options may have changed.” If customer service is all about sending away happy customers while forming lasting relationships so these customers return to make more purchasers or tell their family and friends what a great experience they had using a company, shouldn’t some retailers be taking lessons from a company like Zappos? Statistics reveal that automated answering systems have longer hold times; whereas automated answering systems average a wait time of two minutes per phone call, a human answering the phone averages only a minute wait time.

Customer service is all about making the customer feel important, and the largest part of Zappos investment into customer satisfaction is training their team to be good listeners, and staying on the phone as long as necessary to help. After all, aren’t future customers a large part of building a company, and isn’t a company built one customer at a time? There’s little doubt that customer Lisa will always be a loyal customer, and there’s no doubt that Lisa will be telling friends and family about her experience with Customer Loyalty Team member Shaea Labus. And it’s not that a customer service agent must stay on the phone forever, but having the option always available for the taking is a step in the right direction.

Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth and final part of my interview with Rob Siefker, the Director of the Customer Loyatly Team at Zappos. In this part of the interview, Rob talks about performance reviews, how Zappos encourages employees to further their knowledge (and pays them for doing so), what he thinks about seniority and tenure amongst call center agents, how Zappos handles scheduling, how the company encourages “personal emotional connections,” and finally, what Rob thinks companies can do to deliver Zappos-like service.

You can read part one of the interview here, part two here, and part three here. To read this part, click “read more.”

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Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 3 of 4

This is the third of a four part interview with Rob Siefker, the Director of the Customer Loyatly Team at Zappos. In this part of the interview, Rob talks more about the service metrics that Zappos tracks, how the company empowers its Customer Loyalty Team Members (and has avoided bureaucracy), how escalations to managers work at the company, how the Zappos compensates its employees, and the extensive continuing education programs employees have access to at Zappos and how they work.

You can read part one of the interview here and part two here. You can also jump ahead and read part four here. To read this part, click “read more.”

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Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 2 of 4

This is the second of a four part interview with Rob Siefker, the Director of the Customer Loyatly Team at Zappos. In this part of the interview, Rob discusses how Zappos motivates members of their customer loyalty team, what programs they have in place to recognize good service, and what service metrics the company tracks and how.

You can read part one of the interview here. You can also jump ahead and read part three and/or four. To read this part, click “read more.”

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Interview with Rob Siefker of Zappos – Part 1 of 4

After interviewing Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh  and seeing the company’s HQ outside of Las Vegas, I knew I wanted to learn more about the nuts and bolts and day-to-day operations of Zappos. To get this information, I spoke to Rob Siefker, Director of the Zappos Customer Loyalty Team. In part one of this four part interview, Rob talks about what he does at Zappos, how the company handles operating 24/7, what the training process is like for Zappos employees, and how the company makes the most out of cross-training its employees.

Click “Continue Reading” to see the questions and answers. You can also jump ahead and read part two, three, and/or four.

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Tour of Zappos HQ

Zappos is a company we’ve talked about a lot on Service Untitled (including an interview with the founder and CEO Tony Hsieh), so earlier this week when I was in Las Vegas for the first time, I made sure I got a tour of the Zappos.com Headquarters in nearby Henderson, Nevada.

The tour was really interesting. Unsurprisingly, the Zappos offices don’t resemble a typical office or call center. And the employees working in the Zappos office also don’t resemble the people you see in an average call center. The main difference? They seem very happy to be working at Zappos. I think you’d have a difficult time finding a call center with as many happy people as I saw walking around the Zappos headquarters. The place looks like a fun place to work and as followers of Zappos (and readers of Service Untitled) know, they clearly do things very differently than a lot of companies.

Some interesting tidbits from the tour:

  • All employees go through Customer Loyalty Training and are taught how to use the company’s various systems. That way, when the holidays come around, every employee can pitch in during their down time or if they want, work some overtime, and help out. Cross training helps make it so Zappos doesn’t have to hire as many temporary service employees.
  • Employees move cubicle locations every six months.
  • Customer service employees are divided into teams by mediums (phone, live chat, and email) and then each team is further divided into groups of about 15 or so with a team lead. Team leads sit at the end of each row on a larger desk. Live chat has been the company’s fastest growing medium.
  • There are no offices at the company and everyone, including the CEO, sit at a cubicle. I also didn’t see any executive conference rooms.
  • Zappos gives tours to approximately 100 people per day, sometimes way more.
  • Most employees are paid hourly, but all have access to the cafeteria that has free light meals and snacks and hot meals available for $3.00. The vending machine is $0.25 and proceeds are donated to charity. There are also unlimited free drinks available.

I’ve included a bunch of pictures after the jump. I’ve also included comments and further information with each picture. Click “read more” to see the gallery with photos and comments. To see a larger version of a photo with comments, just click on the photo. To see the full size version, click on it again.

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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos – Part 3 of 3

zappos_logo This is the final part of the interview with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. In this part of the interview, we talk about what it’s like to work at Zappos, how the company finds its employees, what they’re doing to improve their customer service, and why the company decided to differentiate itself with customer service.

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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos – Part 2 of 3

zappos_logo This is part two of three of the interview with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. In this part of the interview, Tony talks more about the company’s very generous policies, how they’ve dealt with their growth to date, and more about the company’s incredibly strong customer service culture.

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