Picked up in a busZappos tour was the hotnessBut move to Vegas
Not a total knock at Vegas, but I don’t think I could live there without being horribly broke and exhausted.
Picked up in a busZappos tour was the hotnessBut move to Vegas
Not a total knock at Vegas, but I don’t think I could live there without being horribly broke and exhausted.
When you hear Zappos… you think service. Delivering happiness is actually the new mantra and there is also NO “customer service” department. There is however, a customer loyalty department tasked with the goal of creating happy customers who will go out and spread the Zappos word to the rest of the world.
Thanks to BlogWorld, the Zappos Insights team (@zapposinsights) and the Zappos Blog team / bus, I had the opportunity of taking a tour of the Zappos HQ in Nevada with several other bloggers (@balanon, @bchesnutt, @wei_yang and others). This isn’t going to be a hip hip hooray post, but I’d like to discuss some things I’ve learned, what I plan to implement when I get back home and some other general thoughts about the company.
I have a little supply chain background and definitely appreciate logistical advantages… which Zappos has. But companies are run by people. If you have bad people, you have a bad company. If you have good people, you could have a good company. One person can make a big difference. Zappos puts a great deal of focus on their people.
Front line hiring makes sure that the right folks are brought into the interview process and there are plenty of questions that focus around the company’s core values. How each candidate answers those questions is extremely important. We discussed one example of a candidate that had 16 – yes SIXTEEN – interviews before joining the Zappos team. Once you join the team, the folks in your department must all approve of you. In other words, YOU FIT THEIR CULTURE.
But wait! There’s more! Every employee goes through training and is then offered a bribe (my word not theirs) of $2,000. If Zappos isn’t for you, leave with $2,000 in your pocket. For Zappos, this is a small investment to avoid a bad seed working in their company.
Now that’s all warm and fuzzy and we all know that joining a company with great core values gives you a burst of energy and enthusiasm, but what happens when that starts to dissipate over time? Each employee has a progression plan to document their horizontal and vertical growth. There are various coaches throughout the company and even a throne (literally) where you can sit and discuss your career progression. If you aren’t doing something you are passionate about, voice it and adjust. If it doesn’t exist, make it. There is even a company goal to have a very large percentage of the leadership team being “home grown” coming through the ranks at Zappos and not always sourced from the outside.
Another cool element… an employee bookshelf with tons of awesome books (Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Chris Brogan, etc) to read to further your personal development. Want one? Just take it with you…
Making delivering happiness a tagline may get an extra customer or two. Saying it and meaning it is what creates strong customer bonds. Employees are empowered to do anything they can do to create an experience that may deliver happiness. There is even a budget for flowers and several great stories of customers dealing with tough times where Zappos has solved their issue and included flowers to show their appreciation.
A culture book is also compiled each year. Every Zappos employee shares what the company culture is doing for them – good, bad or ugly. The comments are not altered and are only edited for grammar or spelling. This is a direct indicator of what is going on in the company and allows management to read all the comments, pinpoint potential problem areas and try to identify ways to remedy any “unhappy” situations.
There is also a 360 evaluation – manager down and employee up – to get a good pulse of the work environment and additional skip meetings where a supervisor will bypass the manager to meet directly with the team and get feedback. These processes are in place to take care of their employees and to match their core values and value proposition.
Tony Hsieh is a multi-millionaire. He had actually sold Link Exchange before starting Zappos for over $250 million. Now imagine what kind of office he would have. A huge corner suite. Tons of windows. Massive amounts of cool trinkets. Maybe even a putting green. A super expensive comfy office chair. An incredible view of the strip. Something akin to the sweet offices we’ve seen on television and in the movies right? Well Tony sits in a cube. Beside him is another executive. They are in the middle of the floor with everyone else.
When the holiday rush comes and millions of shoes are going out the door… who fields the calls? Every. Single. Employee. Including Tony Hsieh. Everyone has a mandatory four weeks of customer loyalty calls in their “initiation” and each holiday season, everyone is on the phone to keep and make customers happy.
What are you measuring for your customer support or customer satisfaction success? Call time? Call quantity? Tickets opened? Tickets resolved? Response time? Are your metrics a true indication of customer satisfaction?
Zappos has a net promoter score (NPS) and a personal service level (PSL) for each rep. The goal is to identify if customers will shop again and spread the word and to see what percentage of time is spent with customers. Which with complex deduction (or just the ability to read), we can conclude that talking to customers for a longer amount of time increases your PSL.
We discussed several 7+ hour phone calls with some resulting in no sales. How would you react if one of your direct reports was on the phone for 7 hours and didn’t make a sale? What is the ROI on that? One thing that came up several times was that the most important part of the Zappos business is the unmeasurable. Sure, we need to be market focused and results driven, but creating an added value of great service from happy folks will surely have a positive correlation on the customer experience and their likelihood to spread your company’s gospel.
Are you doing things to try to create word of mouth? Most folks focus on trying to get customers or potential customers talking (externally focused), but many folks neglect finding ways to get your own employees spreading the word of your company.
How are you changing the game? What is your purple cow? Are you innately trying to create an experience people will rave about? If not, I fear we have some meetings we need to schedule where we all work. I love what we do with Phonebooth and I think we are on the right track, but hanging out at Zappos was the shot in the arm I needed to try to make things even better.
Let’s stop being so ordinary and corporate. Deal?
Update: We have some new information. :)
Zappos has a wall of fame for folks that accidentally hit reply-to-all on their emails… a joy that I also hold near and dear to my heart.
As we all focus on search engine optimization, blogging, and social media… we tend to forget a very important element – Personality.
I’m not implying that we shouldn’t be professional and show subject matter expertise when we write, but is that it? There are millions of people talking about the same topics I talk about and probably yours too. Now that we know we aren’t the only ones talking about social media, how can we improve our blog communities by being ourselves?
Cheesy? Yes. Painful? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. If you’ve had a blog for more than six months and the three things you write down can’t be found in a post or in your About page, we’ve got a problem. If people take the time out of their days to read our ramblings, unless we’re THE thought leader in the industry crushing it with every single post… we’ve got to let them get to know us.
Three “personal” things about me influence a lot of what I write or talk about and have all served as conversation starters online and in person.
I too get the Dictionary.com Word of the Day, but that doesn’t mean I need to use it in each post. The goal is to get people to take the time to read and hopefully follow a call to action (comment, subscribe, buy, download, etc.). Today the word is jnana. Do you know what that means? Do I look smart or intelligent for using that? Be conversational and serve your audience – if your audience knows jnana, you get brownie points.
Please understand that the tips and tricks to making a blog successful are important, but balance that with the fact that in less than 20 minutes… I can start a new blog talking about whatever I want. There is more noise than ever and to build a community, you must either serve a niche or build relationships – ideally both.
If you are motivated to write a post that evokes emotion, do it before you change your mind. To this date, my post with the most engagement (shares, comments, emails, direct messages, discussions, etc) is my most personal post. One that I debated writing. One that I reread four times before posting. One that I wrote at 3am. Passion and expertise differentiate.
If you receive a comment, take the time to respond – whether publicly or private. Reading and commenting takes time and to the best of my knowledge, we don’t yet have an infinite supply of that. Showing your community that you’re listening, processing, and thinking about what they say is extremely important.
Also, check out the blogs and tweets from your readers. Chris Brogan suggests that we should share 12 times as much as we self-promote on Twitter. Think about that before posting five tweets with different variations promoting that recent blog post. Reciprocity helps strengthen relationships.
Since the beginning of time, human interaction has been extremely important. As we create more and more tools to facilitate this online, we forget that in-person interactions are still extremely beneficial. While I say that somewhat tongue-in-check, it is important to make those face-to-face connections when you can. It could be a customer a few miles away or a commenter attending the next industry conference you’re going to. Take the time to cultivate those relationships and you won’t have to tell them when you publish new blog posts… they’ll know. Be yourself and get out there and network.
I’ll be the first to admit that most of these tips are not revolutionary or ground-breaking. Often times, the simple things are the ones we neglect. Personal branding is extremely important, but if your personal brand is simply a professional façade with none of the things that set you apart… you’ll just continue to be an information hub. Think of your favorite blog and I’m confident you’ll know at least three things about the person writing it.
While this post isn’t about metrics, in my opinion, repeat visitors are more critical than first time visitors. Far too often, we choose to monitor “Visitors” because it is the largest number, but there are far more variables there. Keep a constant eye on your Repeat visitors and try to narrow the gap between your first time and repeat folks. The smaller that gap is, the stronger your community is and the more engagement you’ll see. Being yourself is the fastest way to get there.
Over the past week, I’ve read some great contrarian posts… There were the life without Twitter posts from @djwaldow (here), @unmarketing (here) and @lisabarone (here). @justinkownacki had some great pain point posts as well, especially Why I Need You To Be a Better Audience, which had comment discussion that rivaled the awesomeness of the original post.
To add fuel on the fire, I had a great side DM discussion with @ambercadabra during one of her webinars last week where she invited me to disagree with her on a certain topic.
The limited number of folks in the social media space who know me personally know that I’ll happily disagree if I feel passionately about a subject, but I don’t do that a ton here (my blog).
I don’t think it is intentional though… I don’t think saying the same things that everyone else says or talking about topics that everyone will click on is important. It is writing with passion, conviction, or just sharing what you know.
That leads me to this post.
Tonight I was followed by another self-proclaimed social media expert. I’m not going to bash on that, because in all honesty, there are folks that I DO consider to be social media experts despite the audible groans heard throughout the crowd if anyone says that.
You can’t game the system (at least not for long). And for the most part, the thought leaders self-regulate the community, even if unintentionally. The cream will metaphorically rise to the top.
Think about the last networking event you were at. For the most part, whether it is someone who is mega-famous, or a bottom feeder like myself, if you can hold intelligent conversation and offer insight… you can talk to anyone. There aren’t as many cliques in social media as it appears. Smart people like talking to smart people. Followers don’t matter. Blog subscribers don’t matter. Popularity doesn’t matter. Authentic smarts matter.
I grow tired of posts about social media etiquette. Yes, it is very important, but to me it is pretty easy… be yourself.
If you’re an ass, people will know. If you’re a nice guy, people will know. If you have your act together, people will know.
Personal branding awareness is at an all-time high. Anyone off the street can start a blog, proclaim expertise, build a following, and appear to be one hell of a social media expert, consultant, guru, ninja, or whatever you prefer.
If we spend our time policing against the imposters – we suffer.
Our communities suffer.
All of those things will work themselves out in the end.
So people of power with your Twitter followers, blog subscribers, advertisers, sponsors, etc… What are you doing to advance those around you?
I have been absolutely amazed by the folks I’ve met that are doing incredible things in their communities… even if it is taking the time to talk with anyone and everyone about what they’re doing and what questions they have.
I love seeing that and love you all for doing that.
Being able to monetize what you love and making your career feel less like work is extremely important, but there are plenty of times we can help others without expecting compensation.
That could be volunteering select speaking opportunities, helping high school or college courses in your areas of expertise or engaging with your community to the point of being helpful.
Nothing ground-breaking here, I just think we need to say: ask not what your community can do for you, ask what you can do for your community… or something like that.
Please feel free to comment on what you’re doing to help others through social media or in social media. The NCSU MBA course on social media is coming back this Fall and I’d love to add more of you as guest speakers. Thanks for taking the time to read this and please drop a quick comment if you have another minute. 🙂 @cnmoody
There are times I think I should have been born 50 years ago…
Despite my love for technology, my dorkiness with gadgets, my borderline obsession with social media, I’ve always loved vintage advertisements.
There is something so real and raw about them. The fact that I can look at something, know what it is, and say “I can haz that!” is comforting.
There are some super clever ads and new methods these days (some in my Flickr), but for me, clarity is key.
As we all evolve and update our marketing collateral and ads, please pay homage to vintage ads and be clear. Don’t lose your message by pushing the envelope.
With that, PLEASE check out Vintage Ad Browser and let me know what you think!
These days everyone wants a job in social media. It is hip, cool and evidently very fun. Tweeting and checking Facebook all day sounds good to me! With this all too common misconception, everyone I know in social media has been bombarded by folks who want to join the field. This is by no means a knock to any of those people because I’ve actually had conversations with a few people who I think would be GREAT in social media (you know who you are).
There are tons of great articles about being a great social media manager, community manager, social marketing manager, or any terminology you’d prefer. I thought about assembling them all in this post, but didn’t because honestly, if you can’t find those articles…social media will not come easy to you.
My best advice to a friend or enemy wanting to get into social media is the same…show me your footprint (I wear size 15 shoes and naturally leave a nice sized mark behind).
I’m by no means an expert, but I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach. If you truly have interest in a topic, I believe that you will do your homework and be prepared to demonstrate that interest…which naturally leads to a footprint.
For many marketing and social media jobs, the resume walk-through is being replaced by your personal stamp or footprint. You will be “Googled, Facebooked, Twittered, and probably Myspaced” and you should adjust accordingly.
Friday 12/4/09 I was fortunate enough to join an interviewing panel with Jason Dean (a fellow @bandwidth employee). We spent over an hour fielding Q&A with panelists from Bank of America and Johnson & Johnson.
After the Q&A session, we split up and each conducted 4-7 mock interviews. Being a marketing practitioner, I was fortunate enough to spend time with first year MBA students eager to become marketers. Each session was different and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
I may be a little off base here because I’ve worked with startups and companies with startup mentalities, but I am a big believer in letting the interviewer get to know you. Make sure that when you interview, you let your “true colors” show while remaining professional. Again, all the interviews went well, but the lasting memories are of the stories.
You don’t need me to talk about the importance of storytelling (there’s a network for that), but being memorable is important. Be confident and make sure that whoever you interview with knows your story when you walk out of the room. In many cases, it is that story of how one has overcome an obstacle to be where they are today that wins out over any initial nervousness or the possibility of a lack of experience.
Tell great stories…more comes out about the person you are and the employee you can be that way.
Disclaimer: I am not an HR expert and am simply rehashing my personal opinions. If you want to follow an HR expert, my personal favorite is @Lruettimann of PunkRockHR.com. Laurie knows her stuff and has a sense of humor (that’s an understatement).
If you answered:
A. Assemble the militia,
B. Scream “WHY I OUGHTTA!!!” (a personal favorite), or
C. Beat them at their own game…
You are wrong.
I have AT&T phone service. I had Verizon for several years before AT&T, but had absolutely no service in my house. It turned out that I was in a pocket where there was no service and they apologized and let me out of my contract. AT&T and Verizon have battled each other for years, but Verizon’s new campaign is one of the most effective to date (a good writeup is at bnet).
It is a factual campaign even if the graphics are a bit deceiving. AT&T subsequently filed a lawsuit or two. The time, resources, and momentum that went into those lawsuits and the commercials that followed were quite frankly wasted.
It is a matter of sticking to your strategy / vision. When a great athlete encounters an obstacle, do they adjust their course or keep on moving towards their goal? When Lance Armstrong doesn’t have the lead after a stage, does he panic and pedal as fast as he can to gain ground? No. His strategy is to run his race and he usually leaves people in the dust once he approaches the mountain stages.
Consistency is important and if you want to build a strong brand, don’t flinch when your competitors poke sticks at you. Stick to your guns, build the brand, and follow the agreed upon vision. The shortest distance between two points is still a straight line – regardless of any amount of money you throw in.
Kyrie Irving (@kyrieirving) has been one of the most sought after point guards in the country for several years. Recruiting has traditionally been a bit mysterious and the only way to follow along was listening to rumors, inside sources, and following reputable blogs and journalists…that is changing quickly. Over the last few years, there have been more press conferences, hat donning, and even a few fake announcements. The recruitment of @kyrieirving has been interesting to watch for two reasons: 1) he is very active on Twitter, and 2) one of the universities recruiting Irving has traditionally been extremely conservative throughout the process (Duke).
Duke has long been considered a basketball powerhouse, but as the one (two or three) and done player began to enter college basketball, things began to change. Duke landed incredible players that left early, some rightfully so, others not. Jason Williams, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, William Avery, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. are a few of the top Duke recruits who have left early. A historic university was no longer immune to the current state of college basketball. The recruiting focus shifted towards trying to find more four year players and gradually Duke moved from a top five team to a top twenty five team. Tobacco Road is a very competitive place to reside and despite consistent success and 30 win seasons, there weren’t as many banners.
To be successful, one must adapt to change and Duke has done so (this is not implying there hasn’t been enormous success throughout). In 2008, Coach K added an Olympic Gold Medal as a coach and has a Rolodex that includes Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and other NBA stars in addition to the players who played at Duke. This direct bridge to the NBA is a great recruiting tool, but there wasn’t a ton of social media engagement. Let’s look at some of the social media used by Duke University currently and how the recruitment of @kyrieirving was a social media fun-fest.
The fact that there are so many information sources allows a fan, or recruit to do their due diligence and learn even more about the program and those who attended it. Throughout the @kyrieirving recruitment, his Twitter account was stalked by fans, journalists, and other onlookers. One interesting fact was that of the 15 folks he follows, two are current Duke players, Nolan Smith and Seth Curry. Recruiters are now able to get an insight into the decision making process and the informal conversations that take place, such as Nolan Smith wishing Kyrie Irving “good luck” the morning of his announcement.
The Duke Basketball brand is as strong, and open to the public as ever. I’d be interested to hear from recruits if they use any of the tools mentioned in this article.
After joining @waynesutton and @calliekuhn for the NC State Social Media class (which is a full-time semester course by the way), I felt compelled to summarize some of the key thoughts you hear everywhere you go regarding social media. Through leading marketing and sales messaging trainings over the years, I always try to condense the key points to three or less or have an acronym. With that concept, I’d like to talk about how you can ACE your social media campaign, efforts, or initiatives.
If you don’t understand the scope of how many social media sites, outlets, or communities there are, click here and scroll down. InsideCRM even has a list of 50 Social Media Sites Every Business Needs a Presence On. Fifty. Most companies fail with one social media site. With no disrespect to that article, it is a challenge for most companies to find the time and resources to have a presence in every applicable place. I love social media and I’m passionate about it, but I fail to keep some of my profiles current. I’m not perfect, but I focus on my main networks: my blog, my Twitter (@cnmoody), my LinkedIn, and my Facebook (personal not professional). Those networks help identify my personal brand and help others understand more about me and what I can bring to the table.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” -Thoreau
I ask this all the time, but what is your goal? What is the strategy for using social media? Your efforts and the outlets you choose to have a presence in should be perfectly aligned with your goals. It is extremely difficult to have a presence in every place and alignment is the key to determining the path forward. If Facebook doesn’t fit into the corporate social media strategy, don’t do it. Having a stagnant profile on 42 of 50 sites is not a good thing.
@waynesutton discussed this a lot at NC State. Inevitably, there is some loss of control in the nature of social media, but you must maintain control of your voice and the things in your power to control. Social media policies are needed! Everyone needs to be on the same page and understand the consequences of not filtering the things they do or say on social media networks. Social media is real-time and instant and many times, folks forget that what they do and say online is visible to tons of people no matter what your privacy setting is. We are conditioned to limit what we do or say in the workplace because we understand the consequences. Posting ignorant tweets or blog posts is no different even if you do have anonymity, but remember, even if you are anonymous…if you do or say the wrong thing, you will be exposed. Check this Google search if you doubt me.
What an individual says and does can directly impact how they are perceived and how their company is perceived. Control the outward message and maintain trust in your networks.
Please look at Wayne’s topics to avoid and create an internal filter whether your company has a posting policy or not.
Find ways to get others involved. It is that simple. You chose social media because you want engagement, don’t neglect that fact. What you do and say in social media should never be one sided. Only promoting your brand on Twitter is equivalent to standing in Times Square with a megaphone screaming “Buy my widget!” The winners and experienced social media practitioners understand this, live this, and breath this. Build a community, foster that community, love that community, and understand their needs. By doing that you can provide a better product, service, or message because you understand what your community is looking for. Get them engaged! Look at the companies that do this right, I believe you will know a few of them…