Want to hear a good one that involves great message, good product, nice people and sex? Because you know that marketing is about sex, right? Sex and hot men doing the dishes, apparently. To the American woman.
But really, it’s all about the quality of the customer service.
I may be late to the party, but have just had my own personal Zappos epiphany. On the verge of a business event, I realized I couldn’t fit my ankle brace into any of the nice conference shoes I have. So lacking time to shop, off to Zappos I went.
The shopping experience is way beyond nice. To put a fine point on it, they revved my engines, gave me a hot oil rubdown, tons of freebies and left me begging for more. I’ll deconstruct that for you below so you can use the same successful tactics with your tribe. But my buy-in is…
I’m the original Comfy Shoeist.
I will not wear shoes that are uncomfortable for any reason whatsoever. I have a strong, sexy yogabody, but with broken bones in my back and now a broken ankle, you couldn’t pay me to wear heels. So, I’ve been on a never-ending quest for not only comfy, but nice looking shoes.
To compound the problem…
I was allowed to run barefoot as a child and have wide feet. It’s hard to find shoes in my size. Zappos has them in abundance. Even the Sweet Grape flavored Keen Whisper (ooh baby!). And what’s more, they’ve got all this:
Zappos literally videos every single shoe and has an employee model it and tell you little known things like it runs large or small, is sized for the Asian market or the European market so adjust your size thus ‘n so and etc. Bonus points for going the extra mile.
In fact, Zappos is all about the extra mile.
I heard a story where a guy frivolously asked for a pack of cinnamon gum, so a Zappos employee was deputized to go get a pack and include it in his package. Now that’s service.
I had my own service experience though. I called to find out something about a pair of shoes I was ordering and if the package would get to me in time before I went off to a conference. The Zappo’s employee said “You’ll totally have it by Tuesday with overnight shipping” and ran down the color question I had about the shoe. Then he said:
“I can actually make Overnight Shipping free to you for life by putting you in our VIP club. I’ll do that, okay?”
Oooo….talk sexy to me baby!!
I was breathing a little heavily by now and perspiring damply. The American woman loves the sound of the words “free shipping, to and from”. You couldn’t offer any better porn than that to an on-budget female homemaker, corporate VP or business owner, unless it’s one of those beefcake calendars where the man is doing the dishes while begging to give you a foot massage. They make me hot and sweaty too…or it could just be menopause.
But I digress.
I asked if there was any charge for the VIP Program and was told no, but it offered benefits to me as a customer, was by invitation only and he was inviting me just because I picked up the phone to call. “We like to talk to people voice to voice, and we like to do good folks favors.” he said in answer to why that was a worthy action.
I began perspiring in that special way, and had to fan my face. Oh, he was good.
Now he could be handing out VIP memberships to all and sundry for all I know. But I was deliberately and with great care made to feel special, had it reinforced that I’d done the right thing by calling and my service guy said several times how happy he was that I’d called in.
He really sold it too, not one particle of cheesiness did I whiff. He made me feel like I’d saved him from an interminably boring evening. And, I was given a special VIP login which takes it up just one more level. On comparison it appears to be the same catalog items, though some of the prices were less expensive. And the free overnight shipping like I said – priceless.
Who loves ya, baby? Zappos does.
I’m probably the last one on the bandwagon. But I love, love, LOVED how I was treated – so much that I’ll be back, many times over. They’ve won a customer for life. And notice how little, relatively speaking, it took. Five minutes total of a very well-trained employee’s time. The VIP program in place.
The will to be a nice guy business in a cutthroat world.
First of all, Zappos gives free shipping both ways to everyone. They gave me the perk of overnight shipping free, which is a $25 savings I appreciated, needing to get my items within 48 hours. Then they say that I can return items for up to a year. A YEAR. And on their dime no less. That’s insane. But it works, and from studying company loss strategies, I’ll just bet they have very few returns in the later months.
Hassle of returning items is one of the primary reasons more customers don’t shop online or buy from catalogs.
Secondarily, the cost involved in shipping an item back to the company can be prohibitive. Zappos did away with those two issues in one fell swoop.
There’s a lesson to be learned here O Best Beloveds:
Whatever objections your customers raise, address them and make them non-issues before you even open your doors. And if there’s a problem, take on all the responsibility and bend over backwards to accommodate them. That’s what keeps ’em coming back..
Last and most important of all, they tell me I can call 24 hours a day or choose to chat online if I prefer. Options for the Chatty Cathy and for the Socially Avoidant. Covering all bases = Exceptionally Cool.
It got me looking at my own company.
I’m a cottage industry & vend mostly non-physical products. I also don’t have the staff to take on the world in quite the same way Zappos does. But I was seeing plenty of things that could easily be changed to remove hassle from the customer equation. Dealing with Zappos was for a shoe store, close to a spa experience.
I felt pampered. Like a fine looking gentleman had just given me the “hey sexy mama” eye then shook his head, regretting we were at such a distance. And married or not, that still feels good.
I wonder now what I can do to make customers and clients of my products feel uniquely well cared for like Zappos does? What about your business? What have you to share with your tribe that they aren’t getting elsewhere – not in terms of information or your ninja skills, but in terms of tender loving care as a customer?
Think about it. And shop Zappos. Model your experience with them, particularly if you had any trouble with your order. How did they handle it? What did they offer and in what manner?
What are Zappos providing you that you could in turn be providing your ideal community members and customers?
Go, and do likewise.