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How The Zappos Culture Drives Loyalty

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How The Zappos Culture Drives Loyalty
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When you’re selling hammers, every prospect looks like a nail. You’ve heard the expression before. The loyalty version of this is that many suppliers think every solution has to be currency based because that’s what they are selling.

I can hear the groans now, but don’t worry. I’m an advocate of data-driven marketing strategies that are measurable and, whether you like points or not, having a currency as the center of your loyalty program gives you an easy way to keep score. There are lots of other benefits too, an important one being that consumers who belong to the programs tend to allow the brand a mistake or two as they have a vested interest in protecting the value of their accumulated points or miles.

That said, there are situations that not so much demand a non-points solution, but enable it to the extent that points are not in the consideration set as a solution. I’ve categorized these into three models with a few brands as examples for each one:

  • Price Driven: Walmart and Costco
  • Brand Personality: Apple, Red Bull, Zappos
  • Social Interactive: Tasti D-Lite and Carrabbas

Zappos is the subject of the day and although I had heard all the stories of how founder Tony Hsieh personally answers tweets to help resolve customer service issues (remember the famous tale from Tara Hunt on the subject?), the Zappos story truly came alive for me when I heard Jenn Lim, the founder’s spouse, make an inspired presentation about Zappos and her new business, Delivering Happiness.

Delivering Happiness was named after the 2010 book written by Mr. Hsieh and took on a life of its own after Jenn Lim and a core group of customer fanatic “Zappites” decided they wanted to spread happiness across the nation and across corporate America.

The spring of this Happiness that seems to be a renewable resource at Zappos is their company culture. Zappos believes so much in promoting a specific culture that it takes time to solicit the opinions of its employees, partners and customers in assembling its “Culture Book”. I was able to obtain a copy (all you have to do is ask) of the 2010 Culture Book and was impressed to read the 200 plus pages of testimonies from Zappos loyalists as well as see their culture documented in living color through the pictures in the book.

The Zappos Culture is based on 10 Core Values. You can get your own copy of the book, so I’ll just share my favorites from the list of 10:

  1. Deliver WOW through service
  2. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  3. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communications
  4. Do More With Less
  5. Be Humble

Creating a corporate culture is one thing, having the commitment to really live it out is quite another. Zappos has used its culture as the basis for a business that is set apart from competition and that has created customer loyalty without giving away points, miles, or other formal trappings of a loyalty program.

There’s something to be learned here, especially in the age of Social Loyalty. As another saying goes ….. if the shoe fits ……

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