Be sure to read our other interviews in our leadership series.
Also, feel free to jump to other parts of the interview found below:
- 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
Comment by Joe Rawlinson on December 1, 2008 @ 11:59 am
How do you think great customer service will influence customers in a slow economy when many are becoming more price focused?
We definitely think some customers will be more price-sensitive, so we actually have a separate web site called 6pm.com that caters to those customers. However, so far we’ve found that our existing customers on Zappos.com continue to buy from us because of the service they experienced from us in the past.
Aside from the layoffs that weve heard about, how else are you cutting expenses to stay profitable?
We are watching all of our expenses and doing everything we can to be more efficient in our paid advertising, our operations, and our buying and managing of inventory.
How do you balance expense cutbacks with continued investment so you can gain market share over competitors?
It’s always a tough balancing act, but basically we take our financial goals and work backwards from there. We try to deliver the best customer service and customer experience we can while still meeting those financial goals.
How do you set and monitor quality standards for the shoes and other products you offer so that product quality matches your service quality?
It doesn’t happen very often, but if there is a quality issue with a brand or a specific style, we usually hear about it pretty quickly from our customers and then we’ll manually check all the product we still have in our warehouse for either that brand or that style.
Comment by Marquis Parker on December 2, 2008 @ 7:17 am
Im a frequent shopper at Zappos. As a customer, I noticeably observe Supply Chain and Service Excellence, but I have one question: the site seems to be lagging behind both, in terms of innovation, usability, and current-ness. The site is a way-back of the early nineties; a link-farm of sorts.
Don’t get me wrong Im still very loyal to Zappos, but the site is clearly behind, but Fulfillment and Service Excellence are top-notch.
We are actually in the process of launching a new site.
Comment by Thomas on December 5, 2008 @ 3:28 am
How do you ensure that the people you hire into Zappos actually believe in your company culture and core values and arent just paying them lip service to get through the interview process?
Through experience, our recruiting and training teams have gotten pretty good at figuring out who is a good culture fit and who isn’t. It isn’t just about the words they say, it’s about their attitude.
Also, a lot of the questions we ask aren’t typical interview questions, so it’d be hard for someone who only wants to say the right answers to know how to answer them because they don’t know what we’re actually looking for.
For example, one of our questions is: “On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you?”
Comment by Cheri Register on December 5, 2008 @ 9:03 am
Given the increasing diversity of the population in the US, why is it so difficult to buy womens shoes in sizes smaller than 6? When 5s are available, which seldom happens in shoe stores, they are usually narrow in width. My daughter has a fairly typical Korean body type, with short, medium to wide feet. She cant be the only one frustrated with trying to find shoes that fitespecially fashionable womens shoes, not childrens sizes. Someone must want to serve this market.
In the brick and mortar world, it’s a matter of supply and demand, and the reality is that there isn’t enough demand for it to make sense for a lot of brick and mortar retailers to offer those types of sizes.
It’s a different story with online retail, but because most shoes are still sold offline, it still may not make sense for some brands to manufacture special sizes. Hopefully with time this will change though!
Comment by jamie rozansky on December 7, 2008 @ 11:01 am
I am a director of operations in a small/midsize company, under 100 people. We pride ourselves on building our business based on customer service. I am so impressed and inspired by your organization, that I would love to know what you do to compansate, and reward your customer service reps. Is there a specific method you use? How do you combat negativity?How do you expand your business and maintain your culture?
I would love to be an intern in your office and experience your operation. I have been equally satisfied by all of my personal experiences as a consumer dealing with Zappos. I have never been disappointed, nor experienced anything but consistant friendliness and service. I would love to learn from you, so that I can share your service model in our industry and business. Please feel free to contact me. Thank you
We actually offer tours at our headquarters in Las Vegas where many of these questions are answered, so I would suggest you come visit us. Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your visit!
We’re also happy to have you spend more time with the managers of our call center, recruiting team, training, etc. – just be sure to mention this in your email. (We’ve had companies such as Southwest Airlines and Lego come and spend an entire day with us.)
Also, we are about to launch Zappos Insights, in which we can go into more specifics for all of these questions:
Be sure to read our other leadership interviews: