Tony Hsieh, 1 CEO of Zappos.com, is on shmula.com to answer your questions today.
Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
Tony’s responses to the questions in the comment section of this post can be found in this 5-part series:
- Interview Questions from shmula.com blog readers
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Part 1
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Part 2
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Part 3
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Part 4
- Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, Part 5
Similar to previous interviews we’ve held 2 — you, the readers of shmula.com, will have a chance to ask Tony anything you’d like in a structured and transparent conversation with a thought leader in customer experience management, a very successful entrepreneur, and a bona-fide social media freak (but has managed to use social media for the good of the company, adding value to its reputation, customer loyalty, and revenues).
Here are the Q&A logistics:
- Ask your questions in the comment section of this post.
- I will keep comments open until December 5, 2008.
- Tony will respond to any, or all, or no question at all.
- I will post his responses in succeeding posts beginning on December 12, 2008, so stay tuned to shmula.com!
To better frame your questions, here is a quick background on Zappos.com and Tony Hsieh 3:
Zappos.com is a Service Company that happens to sell stuff. In their words,
Internally, we have a saying:
We are a service company that happens to sell ________.
(and eventually anything and everything)
In terms of growth, below are their published numbers for Gross Merchandise Sales:
1999: Almost nothing
2000: $ 1.6 mm
2001: $ 8.6 mm
2002: $ 32 mm
2003: $ 70 mm
2004: $184 mm
2005: $370 mm
2006: $597 mm
2007: $840 mm
2008: Over $1 billion (goal)
What I find most fascinating about the company is their relentless drive for service to the customer as a core tenet. To engender a culture of service, Zappos subscribes to 10 core values:
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
The internal chatter is good, but the proof is in the pudding and — indeed — they have managed to create legions of Zappos.com promoters, recommenders, very loyal return customers, and die-hard fans. Take this example of a customer wishing to return some shoes that didn’t fit her mother’s feet and, unfortunately, her mother passed away shortly after the customer requested to return the shoes:
When I came home this last time, I had an email from Zappos asking about the shoes, since they hadn’t received them. I was just back and not ready to deal with that, so I replied that my mom had died but that I’d send the shoes as soon as I could. They emailed back that they had arranged with UPS to pick up the shoes, so I wouldn’t have to take the time to do it myself. I was so touched. That’s going against corporate policy.
Yesterday, when I came home from town, a florist delivery man was just leaving. It was a beautiful arrangement in a basket with white lilies and roses and carnations. Big and lush and fragrant. I opened the card, and it was from Zappos. I burst into tears. I’m a sucker for kindness, and if that isn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever had happen to me
It’s incredible that a $1 Billion dollar company can still do the little things like this that make such a huge difference.
Be sure to read our other interviews below:
- Tony originally got involved with Zappos as an advisor and investor in 1999, about 2 months after the company was founded. Over time, Tony ended up spending more and more time with the company because it was both the most fun and the most promising out of all the companies that he was involved with. He eventually joined Zappos full time in 2000. Under his leadership, Zappos has grown gross merchandise sales from $1.6M in 2000 to $840M in 2007 by focusing relentlessly on customer service. In the spirit of transparency, you can follow Tony daily work and life on Twitter and on his Blog. ↩
- Read More Leadership Interviews ↩
- Tony focuses on continuing to grow the business at a rapid pace while maintaining the culture and feel of a small company. Prior to joining Zappos, Tony co-founded Venture Frogs with Alfred Lin. Venture Frogs is an incubator and investment firm that invested in Internet startups, including Ask Jeeves, Tellme Networks, and of course, Zappos.com. Prior to Venture Frogs, Tony co-founded LinkExchange, an advertising network that was successfully sold to Microsoft for $265M in 1998. ↩