Great Customer Service in Action

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When you ask people today which companies they associate with fanatical customer service, you often get only a handful of names back; the online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos is one of those companies.  In the July/August 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, shared insight into how he helped revolutionize customer service at Zappos.  Here are a few highlights:

  • Make it easy to contact a customer service rep.  Zappos places the contact information for the call center on every single page of their website, making it easy to find when a customer has a problem.  This is contrary to many sites that bury this contact information in some obscure place on their website.
  • Be there for your customers whenever they need you.  As an online retailer, Zappos shoppers place orders at all hours of the day and night.  To support this, their call center is open 24/7.  Although this adds expense, Zappos feels they more than make up for it through customer loyalty.
  • Be there for whatever they need.  Zappos does not hold their agents accountable by metrics such as Average Handle Time (AHT).  Their primary focus is serving their customers with whatever they need and for however long it takes to guarantee an exceptional customer experience.
  • Try to find ways to leverage  technology to drive your customer service even further forward.  Since joining Amazon.com, Zappos has learned how they can also use technology to drive extreme customer service.

The article highlights a number of other examples and techniques used by Zappos, but the important underlying message here is that from the beginning, they made a decision to build their business around a customer service model.  This has ingrained the experience of the customer in all aspects of the business and each decision made by the company.  This is what it takes to separate yourselves from your competitors and win over your customers.