Have you ever heard about Zappos’ amazing customer service and wondered just how they’re able to do it? Author, speaker and consultant Joseph Michelli went inside Zappos to harvest their know-how into juicy tidbits for his latest book, The Zappos Experience. He gave away some of Zappos’ secrets in our latest Zen Masters of Customer Service webinar. We caught up with him for a quick conversation in anticipation of next weeks webinar.
How did you get your start writing business focused books?
I have a Ph.D. in systems psychology, and began my work as an organizational development specialist. Now I specialize in helping build customer-centric businesses. My first book focused on the Pike’s Place Fish Market, where I worked with the owner, John Yokoyama. Johnny has created a dynamic workforce that creates memorable customer experiences. Together, he and I set out to tell the story of how that service oriented team of employees evolved from what had been a very product focused business approach. That book, When Fish Fly, took my consulting career and book authorship to another level and I began to work with companies like Starbucks, The Ritz-Carlton, UCLA Health Systems, and Zappos.
When interviewing and working with the great companies you have, is there a common thread or trait that you’ve discovered?
Visionary leadership. Leaders in these organizations are not afraid to set lofty goals and aggressively seek to drive an internal workplace culture that facilitates the realization of their vision. These leaders seek to transform people, products, and human experiences. They help people become passionate about going the extra mile in service to others and, as leaders, they go beyond talking about operational excellence (which happens to be tablestakes today) and focus instead on designing and delivering memorable and craveable experiences inside and outside the organization.
I chose Zappos because they’re bizarre and unconventional, yet so successful. They also are consistently delivering a level of customer experience that is lightyears ahead of most companies. I think you can learn a little something from a company that’s a little ahead of you, or you can look way out and see who’s made a giant left turn–like Zappos–and while we might not be able to make the same large turn, there’s something we can all take away from that. Zappos is so good at onboarding employees, doubling down on training and getting people involved in their culture. They’re clearly at the extreme of how companies operate in terms of service-culture execution. Not everyone will do it the Zappos way, but maybe they can take something Zappos does boldly and it’ll inspire them to change something about their own business.
How much time did you spend with them?
In total I’ve been involved with Zappos for about three years. Once it was clear that the CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh would be writing a book on the company, we delayed my book [The Zappos Experience] to be a follow-up that could tell the “how,” behind the “why” that Tony covered in his work.
Why should people attend this webinar (what are they going to walk away with)?
This webinar is for people who are on the journey to delivering better experiences for their employees and customers. It’s for those who want unconventional insight from an unconventional business leader. The lessons from Zappos transcend business type and sector–it’s not just for ecommerce or footwear. The principles have universal application.
Many people talk about customer service and the service-value proposition. They want to provide great experiences for their customers but aren’t sure where or how to change their business. I’ll show them some of the things Zappos does from the inside-out and how to apply those elements immediately to their business.
Watch the recording of our Zen Master webinar with Joseph Michelli: The Zappos Experience: Creating a Customer Service Culture