4 Secrets from Zappos’ Director of Product, Will Young

4 Secrets from Zappos’ Director of Product, Will Young

Will Young, Zappos’ Director of Product takes pride in the fact that his company values customer service. “We don’t discourage calls, we love them” he said enthusiastically during our interview on 77WABC, “In fact, we recently just broke our record for the longest customer service call in our call center, clocking in at 10 ½ hours! No other company actually wants to break that record, but we look forward to it.”

Zappos is constantly trying to improve their customer service, recently trying to integrate the social aspect of shopping into their online store. “People are still taking out pages from a magazine and showing it to their friends, and we’re wondering ‘How can we bring that same social aspect of shopping to our customers?’.” One such project they initiated to try and recreate this feeling is AskZappos, in which a customer can actually send a picture of a product to Zappos and their customer service will look for that product online, even if it’s not on their website. Their dedication to their customers’ satisfaction is key in what makes Zappos such a successful company. They take their employee’s customer communication skills so seriously, that every one of the over 1,500 Zappos employees, without exception, has had to go to train in their call center. Zappos actually flew their senior designer to Las Vegas, provided housing accommodations for
his wife and four children, for a month of call training.

Another innovative product Zappos is developing software for other companies to recreate a similar culture to their own successful model.

Will shared other insights in how any company, small or large, can grow.

  • Sprints – In a highly innovative move, the company actually developed AskZappos in only 12 weeks. By setting a list of goals for the week, they tackled a problem in small increments or “sprints.” By doing this they avoided any one person getting too attached to any single project, thereby keeping production high.
  • Developing a culture – It doesn’t matter if it sounds corporate, set core values for your company. What defines your company or business? What defines your product? These are things that must be established early on in order for your company or business to grow.
  • Keep growing – Don’t hold on to slow growth. If you see your company is continually growing slightly, don’t be afraid to try something bold or move on to something else. You have to take a shot and find the next big ‘wow’ for your customers. Look for something with bad reviews and try to re- invent it. Zappos is even talking about trying to remake the Portapotty.
  • Branding matters – You want people to be talking about your company, via social media or in person. Be it a marketing campaign or amazing customer service, you want to be discussed. Not sure what to do? Ask the customers. Zappos in fact, went door to door to interview customers and ask them what they thought was, and what was not, working.

What’s the Bottom Line: When it comes to modern day business, the phrase ‘The customer is always right’ is more essential than ever. Social media has become a key building block in growth for any kind of venture. Your engagements with your customers can now be displayed on the web for the world to see and it will either help, or sink, your business. Using that to your advantage is key, as Will shows with his methodical care in making sure all of his employees know how to handle a potential situation, even a 10 ½ hour customer service call. The desire to grow must outweigh the desire to stay stagnant, even if that means you have to change. Being more active with your customers on social media is how you can tell if what you’re doing is right or wrong. Create and regularly manage your Facebook page, your Twitter and Instagram account, even a YouTube channel if applicable. Using the feedback received on those mediums can help you decide what areas you must improve on, or what you have to innovate. Don’t just do the same thing everyone else is doing, re-invent it.

Yitzchok Saftlas

Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line's notable clients include: Beth Medrash Govoha, Dirshu and TeachNYS. He can be reached at ys@BottomLineMG.com

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