Building the Culture of a Modern BPO in the Shadow of Zappos
December 18, 2020
Author: Yoni EpsteinThe founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, passed away in tragic circumstances recently at the far-too-early age of 46. Hsieh built Zappos into a phenomenal business that Amazon bought in 2009 for $1.2 billion, but he stayed on as CEO until his retirement just three months ago. Tony Hsieh is known by everyone involved in any form of customer experience design or management because he reinvented the industry. His simple philosophy was that happy and engaged employees will result in happier customers and one of the best ways to create this is just to trust your employees - trust them to do the right thing. The examples of how Zappos employees did this are legendary, but here are some of my own favorites:
- A caller in 2012 called to talk about living in Las Vegas. 10 hours and 29 minutes later the call finished with a purchase of a single pair of Ugg boots. The agent never tried to get the customer off the line.
- A customer that needed to return a pair of shoes hadn’t organized the return because her mother had just died. When Zappos called and learned why the shoes had not been returned they sent a courier direct to the customer’s home to collect them - with condolence flowers.
- Tony Hsieh had been out late with clients and they were back at their hotel after the restaurant had closed - they were hungry. Tony asked his client to call Zappos, even though they don’t sell food. The client called and asked for advice - before long the Zappos agent had sent details of three late-night pizza places nearby.
- Fast decision-making: we make decisions quickly, but also transparently. I’m always happy to justify my own decisions to anyone in our team. Building a culture of trust and honesty from the top level down destroys “office politics” and negativity.
- Accessibility: anyone can access anyone else in our organization. It doesn’t matter about your rank, position, or whether you are officially on the same account team - if you think that someone’s voice or ideas can help a customer then everyone has permission to reach out.
- Empowerment: everyone has a voice and anyone can contribute their ideas. We don’t need to see ideas communicated up and down hierarchies, just get them out there in the open and see who agrees.