Monday, January 17, 2011

Tour of Zappos Company

On 11 Jan 2011, I toured the company Zappos which sells products online (mostly shoes). It started by selling show products and is gradually expanding the types of products that it sells.

One of the key things that make Zappos a unique company is its culture where employees are highly engaged with the company. Employees radically decorate their work areas with streamers, colorful nic-nacks, and other memorabilia.

The tour lasted about 1 hour. Tour groups (approximately 25 to 40 per group) are divided into smaller groups of 7 to 10. Tour group leaders carry a flag which allows employees to easily recognize visitors. As a result, tours seem more like a walk through Hollywood as entering new areas commonly results in the workers putting on a show for the visitors. This show includes sounds, dances, and body gestures.

At the beginning of tour, a guide gives a brief history of Zappos. Much of this history was included in the book written by Tony Shea, CEO. An amazing factoid about Zappos is that the original office townhouse where the company was started is now the home of Craigs List!

Zappos provides basic food for employees at no cost. The tour guide explained that Zappos works hard to fill most of the basic needs of the employees such as physical needs, safety, and friendship which allows employees to focus more on self actualization. Work groups within the company are divided into a relatively small size of 10 to 25 people which helps keep production high and develop strong relationships.

Customer service representatives (CSRs) do not need to follow established scripts and allowed (even encouraged) to create their own dialog style. Calls are recorded and the employees can pick specific calls to review with mentors and other leaders.

Zappos strives to develop relationships with their customers. Over 70% of their customers reorder products. If a customer has a bad experience during their ordering process, they may be sent “wow” packages to help rebuild their trust and positive perspective of Zappos.

Zappos has a Royalty room which contains a chair along with accessories such as a crown and cane. Employees, visitors, and vendors may sit in the chair. Visitors may sit in the chair and have their picture taken which is posted on social media sites (great publicity and motivation). Employee coaching and counseling may also be performed in the chair.

There is a highly decorated area called “Monkey Row” where the senior executives Tony Shea (CEO), Fred Mosley (show expert), and other executives sit.

The return rate for shoes can be over 30%. Some of the less than new returns are sold in the only Zappos retail store located by their warehouse.

Key Things Learned:
1. Recognizes and Rewards Employees
2. Encourages Employee to Interact with the Company
3. Shares Company Goals
4. Continually Tries New Things

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