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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Putting Customer Service at the Heart of a Brand

6 October 2011 by Guest

This is a guest blog post by Dave Chaffey who is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights, the digital marketing advice site.  He is a  consultant, speaker and author of 5 acclaimed books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. To help develop your digital strategy Smart Insights have created a suite of free online marketing plan templates.

Learning from the approach

UK readers may may not have heard of Zappos, but if you’re based in the US they are a big phenomenon. They are a US online clothing retailer often referred to as a pioneer in online marketing – in 2009, Amazon purchased Zappos for $1.2bn and they continue to grow, operating independently. I think we can often learn a lot from pioneers in customer service from other business sectors.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, puts their success down to a customer service focus. He says simply “We pay more attention to our customers”. He explains, “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”. Tony’s summary of the evolution of the Zappos brand has seen it go from simply having a strong customer focus to their being really passionate about how they make their customers feel:

1999 Selection
2003 Customer Service
2005 Culture and Core Values as our platform
2007 Personal Emotional Connection
2009 Delivering Happiness
2011 Zappos Insights – offering tours and guidance to other companies

So what can we learn from Zappos?

Here are 5 success factors I picked out that we can take from Zappos’ success which can be applied to other businesses
1.     Customers come back, order more and more often.
·       On any given day, about 75% of purchases from Zappos are from returning customers
·       Repeat customers order >2.5x more from in the following 12 months
·       Repeat customers spend more
2. Make it easy for customers to build your brand.
·       Superior experience drives word of mouth, so do the unexpected
·       Remove the risk of purchase and make it easy to return product for free
·       Fast, accurate fulfilment is worth talking about
·       Deliver an “above and beyond” customer service
·       Drive people to the phone, be contactable and be open
3. Talk to people!…
·       “The telephone is one of the best branding devices available”
·       Take time to talk to people properly
·       At Zappos there are no call times and no sales-based performance goals for sales reps
·       Zappos will also pay you $2000 to quit, so only the best people who enjoy the job stay
·       The Culture Book makes it clear how Zappos do business and even underpins performance management
4. Build a culture that envelops customers and internal staff”
·       Zappos have “committable core values” that are clear, exciting and simple
·       It doesn’t matter what your core values are as long as you commit to them and get internal alignment
·       Commit to a culture of transparency “An Ask Anything Culture”
·  focuses on lifting the lid for customers and future employees
5. Have a vision…
·       “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger”, comments Tony
·       Does your company vision have real meaning? Without is there little chance of achieving any of the above.
“What would you be passionate about doing for 10 years even if you never made a dime?”