Blogging From The American Express Publishing Luxury Summit: Tony Hsieh on Delivering Happiness
Monday's American Express Publishing Luxury Summit panel sessions began with a swell of music and slides with buzzwords like provenance and human interaction--- the message again, echoing last night's talk was that luxury is "back" but in a new slightly refined way.
"Innovation isn't a luxury, it's a necessity" said Ed Kelly, the President and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Publishing and as if to show proof of this the Luxury Summit offers attendees the use of an iPod Touch. The Touch has a designated Luxury Summit app. The app allows people to vote on polls, ask questions of the speakers in real time and generally navigate the Summit. It's a neat idea and a real sign that luxury is dragging itself into tech, ready or not.
Up first on the presentation schedule was Tony Hsieh, the president of Zappos and author of the new book "Delivering Happiness." Zappos was bought by Amazon last year in a deal closed in December. Instead of blending Zappos into Amazon (what usually happens to the brands Amazon gobbles up), Zappos continues to run independently and define its own unique corporate culture which is part of the subject of Hsieh's book. One of the reasons that Zappos has had such rapid growth is that it does things a little differently than some other online purveyors. The core of Zappos remains the call center and the quality of the customer interaction is the yardstick by how Zappos measures success.
Hsieh defines Zappos as a service company that sells shoes and other goods. Hsieh had the same experience that this blogger did this morning at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. A breakfast ordered for a specific time was over a half hour later and little was offered except for an excuse and an apology. It was a teaching moment for Hsieh to define the way that Zappos values customer service, and that the challenge is in getting the interaction right when things go wrong. Their call centers don't have scripts and average handle time isn't monitored. Orders can be delivered in under 24 hours to provide that "wow" factor.
Hsieh says that at Zappos it's actually the culture not the customer service that is the top priority and drives the company. Employees have to be both smart and talented but also have to be a "culture fit" and they are given five weeks of training, the same training for all employees whether call center reps or corporate lawyers. All employees spend two weeks taking calls from customers and some also end up pitching in during the busy holiday shopping season. Every hire is also given the famous Zappos $2,000 offer to quit. Hsieh says no one took the offer in 2009. Interview questions include 'how weird are you?' and 'how lucky are you?' and the responses are evaluated to see how the employee will fit into the Zappos world. Below are the ten core values from Zappos. They take these core values very seriously, people have been fired for not being responsive to these values.
1. Deliver WOW through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble