Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Perfect Customer Service: A "How To" from Zappos

By: Nicole Bump

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about the need to create a positive customer experience, across channels, devices and touchpoints. This includes customer service. The idea is, provide great experiences and you’ll create loyal customers—even brand advocates.

We’re all aware of how important it is. But we still don’t see too many shining examples of how it should play out, which is why I’d like to share one of those exemplars with you today from a customer’s (me!) point of view.

Get Me To Buy…Again.

I have been a huge fan of Zappos for years. I don’t remember my first purchase, but somewhere early in my Zappos-customer days, the company offered me VIP status. I got a special URL to log in as a VIP shopper, and this status afforded me free one-day shipping. Shoes that arrive next day?! Count me in! This VIP status (which I’m sure cost them little to nothing to label me with), as well as the one-day shipping, were two stellar moves by Zappos to keep me coming back as a shopper.

Returns are also super easy, which comes in handy when I buy one pair of shoes in multiple sizes (gotta make sure they fit!) or send four different pairs next-day to a hotel I’m staying at because I have no shoes for the wedding I’m in that weekend (yes, I’ve done it).
Zappos provides a great buying and returning/exchanging experience…but that’s not enough to succeed.

Keep Me Happy…And Fast.

Inevitably, I’ve encountered some problems here and there with the shoes I’ve bought from Zappos. This is where it’s critically important that a company respond well and quickly to address the customer’s concern.

Firstly, I bought some sandals for my son in early August. A few weeks later, one of the Velcro straps had already stopped functioning, requiring that I duct tape his shoe shut (he was fine with this solution, but I was not). I contacted Zappos via chat and was connected with a friendly and quirky representative. She apologized for the defect, informed me that the shoe I wanted to replace was no longer in stock and let me pick out another pair. The new pair I chose cost an extra $10, which she waived. This slightly-odd but amusing representative told me I could keep the old shoe and perhaps use it as an eclectic planter.

She had already won me over (I sang her praises on Facebook while still in the chat), but this woman went a step further to ensure my satisfaction: she awarded me a $50 coupon code for my next purchase and gave me instructions on how to make sure it would be applied properly (wait until I’m sure the shoes fit, then contact customer service to apply the coupon retroactively). I couldn’t believe was I was experiencing. Of course, I had to add an update to my Facebook post about the coupon. 

, I spent several weeks and many shoe orders trying to find sneakers for both of my boys this fall. I finally thought I had them both set with a pair of reasonably fitting shoes when my three-year-old decided to throw one of his brand new shoes out of the car window while we were driving on the highway (according to Henry, the wind blew it out). Of course, this was no fault of Zappos’ or the shoe maker’s. But I was deeply mourning Henry’s brand new sneaker, and I emailed customer service hoping they might help with a discount on a second pair.

About an hour later, I already had an email back from Macey at Zappos explaining that, while the circumstances were not covered by their return or exchange policy, I was not to worry; she had gone ahead and reordered them for me at no charge.


I was absolutely floored. She also told me I might want to hang on to the extra in case my little guy decided to throw any more shoes out the window.

The response was timely and went above and beyond what I had expected. I addition, she signed off by telling me she had to get going so she could get back to listening to her new pop playlist she had created over the weekend.

Thanks for the Personality

Both of these Zappos representatives responded to me in a timely fashion and exceeded my expectations—all while making the experience fun and personable. You better believe I went back on social and praised Zappos again.

While I’m no contact center expert, I know enough about marketing and customer experience to know Zappos is doing several things right. Is your brand delivering customer service like Zappos?

Nicole Bump is a strategic marketing and communication professional with a passion for content creation across industry verticals, genres and platforms. She's a creative thinker with an eye for detail, and a results-driven performer that consistently exceeds expectations.

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