I visited the Zappos HQ: hurray!

Home I visited the Zappos HQ: hurray!

A story I love, because it proves my point that you don’t need unique products to change the world, you need a unique and strong vision to do so. The Zappos CEO Toni believes that managing his company culture is key to his success and the foundation of the company growth. Zappos has been profitable since 2006 and was sold to Amazon.com for 1.2 billion dollars during 2009.

I have preached a lot about Zappos & Toni in the last few months, but I wanted to learn more. This week I am speaking in Las Vegas and combined it with a look behind the scenes.

Did you know that Zappos has 4 guided tours per day and each tour is fully booked? The tours are completely free and they pick you up with the Zappos mobile at your hotel: free of charge.

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What strikes me is the extreme level in which the culture lives in the company. I’m not just talking about the crazy stuff you find on all people’s desks, but rather about the way Zappos facilitates employees to really act upon the culture. A small example: the customer loyalty team gets the objective to connect with people while calling with them. Once they feel they are connected, they get the advice to write a small handwritten post card to this client saying ‘I was happy I could help’ + some customization. How do they make sure people send these cards? Simple, by placing a bunch of cards & envelopes on everyone’s desk.

The culture lives at Zappos, that’s the least you can see. Just take a look at these pictures. I love these examples:

  • The stairway to culture: in one of the stairways, employees can write on the walls what they feel as the Zappos culture. The wall is full with all kind of weird and fun messages. All of them explaining in their own words what the Zappos culture means to them.

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  • And their offices: they are just crazy. They are probably also the messiest offices I have ever seen, but there is fun everywhere. When you are walking around, each department has its own instrument (or at least something that makes a lot of noise). As soon as the tour walks by, they start to make noise and talk to you. It is amazing how Niels and I were walking around with a big smile on our faces. This is REAL fun.

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  • The ‘wow’ wall: on this wall people stick post it’s with messages about a ‘wow’ experience one of their colleagues gave them. If you’re positively surprised by someone, just let it know to the world and share it on the wow wall.

However, Zappos is not just about fun, it’s also about business and making things happen. They have big white boards in different rooms that follow up on objectives. One of their key objectives are happy clients, the daily measurement of the NPS score is part of the white board. O…the guy on the picture, that’s our guide: Jonathan Wolske and he is full of passion, great guy. Thanks again Jonathan!

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It’s also about growth and sales @zappos. They have different ways of bringing sales into the company as something everyone should be proud of. First of all, they have a real time screen on which you can see where people are buying shoes. Every 4 seconds you get a sales update. Further, they are celebrating it when they break a new ‘day sales record’. The last record is from 2009, when they sold more than 7 million dollars on one day. It’s just a matter of weeks before they hit the 8 million. When it happens: the entire company gets a t-shirt saying ‘my company sold for 7 million dollar shoes on one day and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’. Focus on client happiness and sales are the combination of Zappos’ success.

My moment of glory: I could sit in the chair of my personal hero Toni. I don’t know who the other people were helping me out to make it a nice picture, but I guess it were the 2 other owners of the company. Have fun and be a little weird, it sure is. Thanks Zappos for inspiring me and many others.

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