Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, presented his “Top 10 Lessons Learned in E-Commerce” at this year’s SXSW Interactive. Last year, Tony spoke on the Customer Service is the New Marketing panel. The principles they use at Zappos really opened my eyes to true customer service.
This year, Tony’s top 10 e-commerce list included:
- E-Commerce business is built on repeat customers. Even though you are online, you can still foster long-term relationships.
- Word of mouth really works online. Most of Zappos’ new customers come from offline word of mouth.
- Don’t compete on price.
- Make sure your web site inventory is 100% accurate. Customer expectations can be shattered if you don’t deliver what they saw available on your web site.
- Centrally locate your distribution to speed shipping and delivery times.
- Customer Service is an investment, not an expense. The relationships that you form via great service will pay for themselves in repeat business.
- Start small & stay focused. Don’t try to get too big, too fast.
- Don’t be secretive. Don’t worry about competitors.
- Actively manage your company culture. Zappos has a culture book they give to employees and they immerse every new hire in the call center and distribution world for several weeks before they begin their “real” jobs.
- Be wary of so-called experts. You know your company and your culture best. As Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true.”
You can view the slides from his presentation here:
Rainy Day Example
While e-commerce is the vehicle through which Zappos.com makes their money, they are focused squarely on top quality customer service.
photo by sprigley
The fourth day of the SXSW conference was a rainy day, start to finish. As I left for lunch, I saw the Zappos CEO and crew dressed in rain ponchos and handing out free Zappos.com branded rain ponchos to everyone.
Customer service is such a part of their being that these guys not only exceed expectations in e-commerce but also wherever they go. I saw people in Zappos ponchos all day long. Brilliant timing and marketing!