While in Las Vegas for Call Center Week, we were lucky enough to tour the Zappos campus on the north end of the Vegas strip. We were treated to a talk by Zappos leadership on their astonishing journey from small internet start-up to billion dollar e-commerce retailer.
We also heard from Zappos recruiters and trainers about their processes for finding self-motivated, savvy, customer-centric people and about the training programs put in place to develop agents’ ability to create the personal emotional connections needed to provide WOW service through agent empowerment and ownership.
Although we do not have a central location and depend on creative and intensive use of our communication tools, we enjoyed seeing their culture shine through in their center decor and agent enthusiasm. We know that close collaboration and shared culture is hard work but absolutely essential to the success of creating a place where we're all excited to come to work to support our clients.
We explored their technology which allows the usual KPI tracking. Most traditional call centers pay close attention to average call time. Zappos does not. Instead they train their agents to create that personal emotional connection that leads to the immediate sale and, almost assuredly, future sales. Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of a time an agent spends on the phone. This personal service level metric empowers the team to utilize their time building customer relationships and loyalty. Agents are expected to spend at least 80% of their time on customer-facing interactions. Those that consistently meet this target are rewarded with more shift choice and various performance spiff awards. Those who fall below this line receive coaching and mentoring to reach a consistent level.
We also we able to listen in on customer calls - fun fact, the longest customer call was in excess of 10 hours! But, of course, this is just smart business. Bain researchers have found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% and lowers operational costs as well.
Zappos has made a huge name for themselves as leaders in the forefront of customer-centered service and we very much appreciated being able to see inside their operation to learn and gain inspiration.