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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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Happy Holidays from Service Untitled!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!Just a quick post today to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday. Please enjoy some time with your family and friends.

As always, thank you for reading, sending in post ideas, linking to Service Untitled, commenting, and more. We’ve had a great 2010 and we’re looking forward to an even better 2011. And of course, we wish the same to you, your family, and your business.

Thanks again and happy holidays,
The Team at Service Untitled

photo credit: Paigey Pics

Saying “Bon Voyage” to Your Customers

As service professionals, we all understand the commitment and effort needed to acquire new and retain our existing customers. But what about the customer who has decided to leave? What do we typically do for them?

In his book It’s Your Ship, Michael Abrashoff talked about how important it was to give a warm send off and thank you for Navy personnel who served under him but opted not to re-enlist. On other ships in the fleet, these people typically just packed their gear and left. But the author went out of his way to make sure a full-scale recognition of their contributions and duty to their country was provided to his staff.

Why did he do this? Simple! He wanted to make sure the servicemen/women under his command left with a positive impression of their tour of duty, knowing that if he did these people would speak positively to others about their experience in the service, which in turn, might inspire someone else to enlist.

The same holds true with our customers.

We recently received a very nice email from a customer who had contact our support team to cancel her service. Her business was shutting down and as a result she no longer needed our service. In the email, the customer expressed her gratitude for the service provided by our support associate who closed the account. The customer went out of her way to tell us that the rep was courteous, efficient, handled her cancellation cheerfully, and even went above and beyond to help the customer download critical information out of our system and get a refund for the unused balance on her account!

At the end of her email, she let us know how much she enjoyed using our service and would “definitely recommend your company to business owners who I know could benefit from using your service.”

We put so much effort into “on-boarding” a new customer, maybe it’s time to start thinking about how you “off-board” customer when they leave. Give them the proper send-off and they can still act as your “good will ambassador!”

With twenty-plus years working in a variety of contact center roles, Larry now heads up the award winning Customer Support team at Constant Contact, the leader in online marketing tools for small businesses. Insuring the 1.2 million calls, chats, and emails his staff handle each year with nothing less than an “awe-inspiring” experience is Larry’s passion. With a keen eye for recognizing service triumphs and failures, Larry loves to shares his experiences on his blog, www.serviceexcellencedefined.blogspot.com.

A Service Untitled Milestone

Cheryl’s post yesterday marked an important milestone for Service Untitled – our 1,000th post. I started Service Untitled all the way back in April 2006 (you can see the full archives here) and since then, the blog has grown into a leading blog on customer service and the customer service experience. We’ve published a lot of posts that I am very proud of, including a number of terrific interviews, book reviews, and more.

As I’ve gotten busier, Service Untitled has still grown in other ways. We’ve added other writers, including staff writer Cheryl Hanna (who happens to be my mom as well as a great writer), regular contributors Chip Bell and John Patterson, and a variety of other guest authors. These people have contributed advice and expertise that I may not have from my own experiences through the companies I’ve been involved with as an employee or consultant. One of the main reasons I started Service Untitled was to learn and it’s been a great experience so far. I’ve learned a lot about customer service and have talked to a lot of very interesting people.

We’re looking forward to the next 1,000 posts. Thanks for reading.

SU named one of “20 Blog Biz Management Students Will Love”

Service Untitled has been named one of the “20 Blogs Business Management Students Will Love” by the folks at Rasmussen College. Being number six on a list of 20 blogs that also includes the likes of Church of the Customer, the excellent Harvard Business Review blogs, and a number of other awesome blogs is a huge honor.

Thanks to Rasmussen College for the recognition!

Interview with Doria Camaraza from American Express – Part 4 of 4

This is the fourth and final part of my interview with Doria Camaraza, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fort Lauderdale Service Center for American Express. In this part, Doria talks more about the American Express culture, share some things are unique to American Express call centers, talks about how American Express engages with social media and gathers customer feedback, and finally, how she interacts with customers personally.

Click “read more” to read the interview. You can also read part one, part two, and part three.

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Interview with Doria Camaraza from American Express – Part 3 of 4

This is part three of a four part interview with Doria Camaraza, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fort Lauderdale Service Center for American Express.

In this part of the interview, we talk about how customer service ties in with the different types of American Express cards and how American Express approaches the important topics of empowerment and taking ownership of issues.

To read this part of the interview, click “read more” below. You can also read part one and part two of this interview if you haven’t already.

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Interview with Doria Camaraza from American Express – Part 2 of 4

This is part two of a four part interview with Doria Camaraza, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fort Lauderdale Service Center for American Express.

This part of the interview includes information on how American Express decides to hire new employees versus promote them from within, more information on the compensation and motivation methods the company is using, how they use Net Promoter, information on the company’s “Relationship Care” program, and more.

To read this part of the interview, click “read more” below. If you want to read part one of the interview, click here.

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