Fast Company founder William Taylor has written a new book called Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself. It has a lot of great ideas and anecdotes, including the following about Zappos that will have you saying, “Who needs an employee handbook when you’ve got a culture like this?”
A woman was caring for her terminally ill mother. In an effort to lift her mother’s spirits, the woman ordered several pairs of shoes from Zappos. Her mother’s shoe size had changed due to her illness, and only two pairs fit. Because of how hectic the times were, the woman forgot to return the other shoes (which at Zappos is always free).
After her mother passed away, the woman contacted Zappos and told them of the situation. The Zappos employee offered to send a UPS driver to her house, so she wouldn’t have to bother with the hassle of boxes and finding a place. Moreover, the Zappos employee sent the woman a bouquet of flowers as condolence for her loss.
I’ll tell you what: Zappos didn’t even do that for me, but reading about it sure makes me want to buy from them. That’s a company that cares about its customers.
Now, can you imagine the page in the company handbook that describes what to do in such a situation? You think that page really exists? Of course not. Zappos hired right, empowered the employee to do what he or she thought was right and encouraged a culture of creative solutions along the way.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is quoted in the book: “We don’t have a process or procedure for this. How can we? You can’t predict all the situations that are going t come up. But if you get the culture right, these things happen on their own. ...We’re not trying to maximize every transaction. We’re trying to build a lifelong relationship with each of our customers.”
What are you doing to empower your team so these sorts of things can happen on their own in your store?