I just finished reading Tony Hsieh’s new book, “Delivering Happiness.” There are so many great stories and suggestions in this book, I want to share them with you over my next few blog posts. By all means, buy the book. It’s a great read for anyone who owns, or wants to impact, a business.
Most call centers measure their employees’ performance based on “average handle time,” which focuses on how many phone call each rep can handle in a day. This results in reps being more concerned with how quickly they can get the customer off the phone as opposed to how they can develop a relationship with that customer or prospect.
Most call centers also have scripts and force their reps to try to up sell customers to generate additional revenue.
Zappos does not measure call times — other than to record the longest call at nearly six hours long — and they don’t up sell. They focus on having each rep go above and beyond what the customer expects.
Zappos does not use scripts because they trust their employees to use their best judgement when dealing with each and every customer. This is the definition of an empowered employee that I have written about several times in the past.
Zappos wants each rep to let their true personality shine during each phone call so they can develop a personal emotional connection with the customer. This, in-turn, helps the customer develop an emotional connection to the Zappos brand.
Another example of Zappos using the phone as a branding device is what happens when a customer calls looking for a specific style of shoes in a specific size that Zappos is out of stock on. In those cases, the reps are trained to research at least three competitors’ web sites and if the shoe is found, direct the customer to the competitor. While Zappos might lose that sale, it gains the trust and respect of the customer over the long-term. Zappos wants to build a lifelong relationship with each customer one phone call at a time.
You make think it’s strange for an internet retailer is so focused on the telephone. Only five percent of Zappos sales happen through the phone and most phone calls do not result in a sale. However, on average, every customer contacts Zappos at least once during his or her lifetime and Zappos wants to ensure they use that opportunity to have a dialogue with the customer and to create a lasting memory.
What are you doing to create a lasting memory for your customers?