Not only do companies need to think progressively today when it comes to their operations and sales strategies, but they also need new approaches to how they deal with customers. The highlight of the “Build A Better Culture Of Customer Service” session during the ASI Power Summit was insight from Tami Lemke, a customer service manager with online shoe and clothing seller Zappos, which is hailed as one of the best providers of customer service today.
The session started with an audience poll. Attendees were asked how they rated customer service in the industry. The majority (65%) give it a grade of A/B, while 35% rated it a C/D/F. At Zappos, Lemke said, reps are empowered to do what’s necessary to keep customers happy. There are no sales quotas or talk-time restrictions, and if something goes awry, reps can offer Wow Packages which include coupons or discounts or even tins of cookies or flower bouquets. In fact, she said they often send flowers after a customer has passed away. Those personal connections are what endear Zappos to its customers. In addition, each rep takes 15 minutes every day to write out cards to customers. Some draw pictures, others write poems, and each week someone wins the Whiz Bang Card of the Week Award.
Recognition comes in other forms too. “We actually have a Hero Award and a Manager of the Month Award,” Lemke said. “And, we also have a Sidekick Award which goes along with the Hero Award.” Not only is the recognition appreciated, but it goes a long way toward solidifying the customer service culture that’s prevalent at the company.
Heroes, Lemke explained, have leeway to solve problems – lost items, items never showing up, defective items, etc. – how they see fit without fear of management second-guessing the decision. In one example, a Hero was trying to help a little girl with leukemia who wanted a pair of shoes the company didn’t sell. The rep wanted to buy them from another company, but the customer service manager talked to the kids’ shoes department and together they crafted a package that included promotional items from vendors, hand written card, shoes, and more. And even though she didn’t get the shoes she originally wanted, she got an experience she never could have imagined.
But the customer service culture at Zappos is not limited to the reps who work the phones. It is the core of the company. Every employee receives customer service training and answer phones for four weeks before they are trained in the job they were hired to do. And everyone does it, including CEO Tony Hsieh, who once hung up on a customer only to call her back and offer her coupons. “Culture is everyone’s responsibility,” Lemke said.
Counselor caught up with Lemke after the session to find out more of Zappos’ customer service secrets. Click here to watch the video.