역시 Zappos는 대단한 조직이다. 경영학의 마케팅 이론을 고쳐쓰고 있다. 필립 코틀러의 «마케팅 원리»는 경영학의 마케팅 분야에서 독보적인 책이다. 구글 스칼러에 들어가면 인용횟수가 1만8천 건을 넘는다. 코틀러가 2011년 2월에 제14판을 내면서 제1장 첫번째 주제를 Zappos로 삼았다. 🙂
Chapter 1. Marketing – creating and capturing customer value
Zappos: A Passion for Creating Customer Value and Relationships
Web seller Zappos is obsessed with creating the very best customer service and customer experience. In return, customers reward the company with their brand loyalty and buying dollars. The result: Zappos’ sales have grown astronomically.
Imagine a retailer with service so good its customers wish it would take over the Internal Revenue Service or start up an airline. It might sound like a marketing fantasy, but this scenario is reality for 12-year-old Zappos.com. At Zappos, the customer experience really does come first—it’s a daily obsession. Says Zappos understated CEO, Tony Hsieh (pronounced shay), “Our whole goal at Zappos is for the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and customer experience.” When it comes to creating customer value and relationships, few companies can match Zappos’ passion.
Launched in 1999 as a Web site that offered the absolute best selection in shoes—in terms of brands, styles, colors, sizes, and widths—the online retailer now carries many other categories of goods, such as clothing, handbags, and accessories. From the start, the scrappy Web retailer made customer service a cornerstone of its marketing. As a result, Zappos has grown astronomically. It now serves more than 10 million customers annually, and gross merchandise sales top $1 billion, up from only $1.6 million in 2000. Three percent of the U.S. population now shops at Zappos.com. And despite the harsh economy, Zappos sales have continued to soar in recent years.
Interestingly, Zappos doesn’t spend a lot of money on media advertising. Instead, it relies on customer service so good that customers not only come back but also tell their friends. More than 75 percent of Zappos.com’s sales come from repeat customers. “We actually take a lot of the money that we would have normally spent on paid advertising and put it back into the customer experience,” says Hsieh. “We’ve always stuck with customer service, even when it was not a sexy thing to do.” Adds Aaron Magness, Zappos’ director of business development and brand marketing, “We decided if we can put all the money possible into our customer service, word of mouth will work in our favor.”
What little advertising the company does do focuses on—you guessed it—customer service. The most recent Zappos TV ads feature “Zappets,” puppetlike characters styled after actual Zappos employees, highlighting interactions between Zappos customer service reps and customers.
Free delivery, free returns, and a 365-day return policy have been the cornerstone of Zappos’ customer-centric approach. To wow customers, it even quietly upgrades the experience, from four-to-five-day shipping to second-day or next-day shipping. Its customer service center is staffed 24/7 with 500 highly motivated employees—about one-third of the company’s payroll—answering 5,000 calls a day. “Those things are all pretty expensive, but we view that as our marketing dollars,” says Hsieh. “It’s just a lot cheaper to get existing customers to buy from you again than it is to try to convince someone [new].”
Zappos has been steadfast in its focus on customer service even as it’s grown. In a sluggish economy, retailers especially should be focusing on customer service. But as Hsieh points out, it’s often the first thing to go. “The payoff for great customer service might be a year or two down the line. And the payoff for having a great company culture might be three or four years down the line.”
At Zappos, customer intimacy starts with a deep-down, customer-focused culture. “We have a saying,” proclaims the company at its Web site. “We are a service company that happens to sell [shoes (or handbags, or clothing, or eventually, anything and everything)].” The Zappos culture is built around its 10 Core Values, ranging from “Build open and honest relationships with communication” to “Create fun and a little weirdness.” Value number one: “Deliver WOW through service!”
Zappos’ online success and passion for customers made it an ideal match for another highly successful, customer-obsessed online retailer, Amazon.com, which purchased Zappos in late 2009. Amazon.com appears to be letting Hsieh and Zappos continue to pursue independently the strategy that has made them so successful in the past.
To make sure Zappos’ customer obsession permeates the entire organization, each new hire—everyone from the chief executive officer and chief financial officer to the children’s footwear buyer—is required to go through four weeks of customer-loyalty training. In fact, in an effort to weed out the half-hearted, Zappos actually bribes people to quit. During the four weeks of customer service training, it offers employees $2,000 cash, plus payment for the time worked, if they leave the company. The theory goes that those willing to take the money and run aren’t right for Zappos’ culture anyway.
Hsieh says that originally the incentive was $100, but the amount keeps rising because not enough people take it. On average, only 1 percent takes the offer, and Hsieh believes that’s too low. Zappos argues that each employee needs to be a great point of contact with customers. “Getting customers excited about the service they had at Zappos has to come naturally,” says Magness. “You can’t teach it; you have to hire for it.”
When dealing with customers, Zappos employees must check their egos and competitiveness at the door. Customer service reps are trained to look on at least three rival Web sites if a shopper asks for specific shoes that Zappos doesn’t have in stock and refer customers accordingly. “My guess is that other companies don’t do that,” Hsieh says. “For us, we’re willing to lose that sale, that transaction in the short term. We’re focused on building the lifelong loyalty and relationship with the customer.”
Relationships mean everything at Zappos. Hsieh and many other employees stay in direct touch with customers, with each other, and with just about anyone else interested in the company. They use social-networking tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, to share information—both good and bad. And the company invites customers to submit frank online reviews. Such openness might worry some retailers, but Zappos embraces it. As Magness points out, “You only need to worry if you have something to hide,” and Zappos seems to take even criticism as a free gift of information.
Zappos has set new standards in the industry, leading the way for a new type of consumer-focused company. “There’s something about these young Internet companies,” says a retailing expert. “I’m not sure exactly why—if it was because they were born in a different era, the leadership has a different worldview, or if they just have amazing access to customer data and see firsthand what customers are thinking,” he says. “It seems that Zappos is really the poster child for this new age of consumer companies that truly are customer focused. A lot of companies like to say they are, but none of them is as serious as Zappos.”
It’s that intense customer focus that has set the stage for Zappos’ growth, as the company branches out into new categories, such as electronics and home goods. “Hopefully, 10 years from now, people won’t even realize we started out selling shoes online. We’ve actually had customers ask us if we would please start an airline or run the IRS,” Hsieh says, adding, “30 years from now I wouldn’t rule out a Zappos airline that’s all about the very best service.”