Can You Buy Zappos Culture?

zappos_socialEven though I’ve made fun of their airport ads, Zappos absolutely knows how to sell shoes. Now, according to Business Week, it’s hoping to profit from people’s fascination with its friendly, antics-filled business model.

After all, if an entrepreneur creates a successful business, why not sell the concept to other entrepreneurs interested in starting up new ventures? So, last summer, they began holding two-day, $4,000 seminars on how to recreate the essence of its corporate culture.

Want a preview? Take a look at Tony’s Hsieh’s presentation deck on “Delivering Happiness” from a recent Tony Robins Business Mastery event.

Some of Zappos employee policies, as outlined in the article include:

  • Call center operators’ initial salary is $11.00 per hour.
  • There are no employee bonuses.
  • There are no 401K matching contributions. Hsieh believes productive employees derive the most satisfaction from helping their customers.
  • Customer service employees enjoy plenty of freedom—and latitude in doing their jobs. They can spend hours servicing one customer—even directing them to competitors’ web sites. Whatever it takes to satisfy the customer’s needs is job #1. Having fun while doing it is part of the job.
  • Over 95% of Zappos transactions occur online, so phone calls to customer service reps are viewed as opportunities to connect with consumers and “wow them” according to Hsieh.
  • Top priority: to establish emotional connections with the customer.

The goal behind this cusstomer service focus is to build more buzz around the Zappos brand and its extreme customer service.

A Zappos seminar last July impressed David Brautigan, who runs a family heating and air-conditioning repair business. It prompted him to fire 12 employees who were “just not being nice,” while rewarding those who remain with such perks as sky diving trips. “The nicer we are to people,” he says, “better things are happening.”

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