We went to visit Zappos.com!
“Holacraty”! This is the new term that I learned here in Las Vegas while visiting Zappos.com after CES 2017. Three years ago, Zappos joined a very closed circle of companies around the world who decided to ban hierarchy and chose to shape their organizations in a circular way. Imagine that your company is a big circle, and therefore no Top-Down, within which other circles evolve depending on areas of expertise. For the “Fordist” I am, it sounds hilarious! No managers would mean ANARCHY… no? Well no… I witnessed the exact opposite…
How did Zappos manage such a sleight of hand? It’s Vegas after all… The secret is two things:
1- Corporate Culture and 2 Core Values.
For the former, I paraphrase the words of the current CEO Tony Hsieh “We can copy the offer but not the Culture of the Company”. And, what he has managed to build here is truly unique! The perfect example of “Come As You Are”. The possibility for a recruit to join the “Zappos Family” is defined through a very rigorous recruitment process that can last up to three months (see: the book Delivering Happiness of the founder of Zappos.com). At the end of this process, and whatever the position you will occupy in the box, you must pass by customer service, which is a huge internal call center.
The latter is a feat! The CEO of Zappos.Com explains in his book that Customer service is at the heart of his Business Model. You will surely wonder why this choice when they sell shoes online? The nerve of war should be supply, logistics, marketing … but this is not the case of Zappos.com. When we think about it, we realize that it’s actually full of wisdom. Indeed, you can’t claim to be different by delivering on time and even less so by having the lowest price. On the other hand, developing a personal relationship (in the jargon of Zappos.com, they call it “PEC” as Personal Emotional Connections), that’s positioning. Even better, resources that work in the Customer Service do not have a script… yes, no formatted text to repeat to customers by e-mail, Live Chat, or over the phone. Each conversation is unique and specific to the customer’s situation. They can talk about everything and anything, and it can last as long as necessary with a record of 10 hours and 43 minutes!
The second part, to cement everything, « Core Values » and Zappos.com have 10:
- 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 Relations with Communication.
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit.
- Do More With Less.
- Be Passionate and Determined.
- Be Humble.
Respect of these values is just “religion”! Zappos’ Family knows them by heart and applies them to the very details.
“Here I tried to report what I saw but not what I felt. The reason is simple: I cannot do it. As a startup founder, seeing that is exceptionally inspiring. I spend my time watching videos of American startups on Tech Crunch, but being there is simply indescribable.”
See you soon for other shares J
Achraf Lemnini, Founder of Share Conseil