Blog #200 I talked about Starbucks pitch and private Label position. In this blog I want to talk about Customer service and Culture become the focus.
August 2004 our first culture book is born. Each employee in the company was asked what the culture meant to us. Here is Tony’s original email to the company:
From: Tony Hsieh <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 10:08 AM
To: All Zappos Employees <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Zappos Culture Book
We will be putting together a mini-book as part of the orientation package for all new hires about the Zappos culture. Our culture is the combination of all of our employees’ ideas about the culture, so we would like to include everyone’s thoughts in this book.
Please email me 100-500 words about what the Zappos culture means to you.
(What is the Zappos culture? What’s different about it compared to other company cultures? What do you like about our culture?)
We will compile everyone’s contribution into the book. If you wish for your entry to be anonymous, please indicate so in your response. We will be distributing the book to all new hires as well as all existing employees.
Also, please do not talk to anyone about what you will be writing or what anyone else wrote. We want to know what the Zappos culture means to you specifically, as it will be different for different people.
Please email me no later than Wednesday, 8/25.
This was my first Culture book entry in 2004:
Mike N.- Merchandising – Zappos employee since April 2003
I have been in Retail for over 27 years and have experienced many different ways retailers run their business. We have the basic retail structure of having an org chart and chain of command, but what is distinctly different is that our company truly lets people run with their responsibility. I was wowed myself the first time I wrote an order with a brand and went to Fred to “authorize” it. He looked at me kinda funny and said, “We hired you to make these decisions, you don’t need my approval”. At the “other” retailers you would have to have it reviewed and submitted and sometimes wouldn’t hear back for a few weeks or months if it was approved. Our culture truly gives everyone a genuine sense of ownership. One company even told everyone they had an “inverted pyramid” and the only ruler was “to use your best judgement”. Good in concept but they didn’t truly practice it.
I would also like to mention we are truly service oriented. I say that because it’s not “just” towards our customers, but also to our brands. Most retailers will beat up the brands to get more and more from them. We do ask for things too, but in return we offer much more back. It’s heartwarming to see that vendors truly like to come see us because they know it’s going to be a positive meeting. Most retailers will “say” they focus on customer service, but the first cutbacks are generally aimed at the service areas. I’m proud of our company and its culture and we are doing the right things to be a world class company. If you’ve never been in retail before, it’s tough out there…this is the place to be.
Couture site is launched
Also that month Eileen focuses more on Couture type brands and the Zappos Couture site is launched. There were some brands that didn’t want to be on the Zappos site but still wanted to do business with us. Eileen did a great job of creating that point of difference.
After being back in the office I accept the Private Label position. During the WSA show I run into my old mentor Rob and we catch up about what’s been going on in our lives. I told him about my new position and he said he could introduce me to some China factories. It would be nice to work with him again and especially since I trusted him.
Our warehouse adds 160,000 sq. feet and reaches 1 million pairs stocked in Kentucky. The company also shifts it’s focus to Culture and customer service so a list of culture ideals are being put together.
Our 5th Anniversary party is turned into a party for the vendors for the first time. It was held at the Hard Rock pool area. I will devote the next blog about this event.
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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