Delivering happiness to keep employees engaged and customers coming back

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What You’ll Learn:: 

You think you work for an oddball place? Try Zappos, the shoes and accessories company that values staff and customer goodwill above sales.

Its secret to landing on Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For is putting customers and employees first—even in ways that sound like business suicide.

The Las Vegas-area footwear firm calls itself a service company that just happens to sell shoes, says Becker. That’s why customer happiness matters more than making the sale.

In this session, you’ll gleefully grasp:

  • Tactics for landing a place on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
  • Why generosity to customers pays dividends
  • How to generate happiness among staff and those who buy from you
  • Ways to build an offbeat culture
  • How to get a fanatically devoted customer base—and staff

Zappos must be on to something. Three quarters of its sales come from repeat customers.

Learn the utterly ridiculous—and successful—ideas that keep Zappos growing. Find out why Zappos asks unusual job interview questions, such as:

  • On a scale of one to 10 how weird are you?
  • Who’s your favorite superhero?
  • Would you like to hang out at your boss’ house on the weekend?

For applicants tempted to ask, “What’s it to you?” Becker says Zappos encourages people to have friendships at work. Managers must spend 20 percent of their time outside the office with employees, doing things like going out for lunch or team-building.

Find out why Zappos offers free shipping—and return shipping. Plus, it offers a 365-day return policy, for those folks who buy shoes, leave them in the closet for months, then decide they don’t want them. (Ladies, you know who you are.)

These Imelda Marcoses can mail their pumps, stilettos or combat boots back free and get a refund up to a year later.

Learn why Zappos sends customers to competitors’ websites if it doesn’t have what they need.

And find out about the quiet pride that comes from holding a Bald and Blue Day. Do you have a day when everyone either shaves their head bald or dyes their hair blue—including the CEO? How about a teen-themed event to celebrate your 14th anniversary: an Awkward Prom? Zappos has hosted both of these.

Treat your call center as a social network. Zappos staffers are free to engage the customer any way they see fit. Those three or four minutes spent gabbing with the footwear fetishist generate deep loyalty over time.

“The phone is a great social networking tool outside of Pinterest or Twitter,” he says.

Discover why the Zappos training process is longer than most, and all employees are required to put at least 40 hours of customer service work on the phones during training—even if they’re going to work in the café.  And hear why bigwigs, including the CEO who founded the company, had to go through training, too.

Would you pay your trainees $4,000 to quit? It’s worth the investment, Becker says. Zappos wants employees who are eager to work there, rather than lunch-bucket types who trudge in the door because they’ve got nowhere else to go.

Only 2 percent of people who go through training take the offer, and Zappos thinks the money is a good investment. The result is a better, more committed workforce.

Start here to learn more.

May 2013

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Presenter bio: 

Loren Becker is the downtown coordinator and Zappos experience and community team manager at and works with CEO Tony Hsieh on the culture for which the company has become known around the world. Becker started at Zappos in July 2004 on the customer loyalty team. By the following January, he was training new employees. Once the training department was established in May 2005, Becker and the four initial members of the training team developed new-hire training that not only taught Zappos newcomers to be customer-loyalty representatives, but also inculcated the Zappos culture in them.