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Putting the WOW in Service

Ken Blanchard, coauthor of Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, introduces a passage about how great customer service builds brands and loyalty from Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh.

To keep your customers today, you can’t be content just to satisfy them. If you want your business to thrive, you have to create what I call Raving Fans — customers who are so excited about the way you treat them that they want to tell stories about you. These customers become part of your sales force.

Great service is not an accident. It starts when you decide what kind of experience you want your customers to have — when you articulate a clear vision. You keep it alive by empowering your people to go the extra mile for the customer. When it’s innovative and comes from the heart, great service keeps customers coming back again and again.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of, understands what great customer service — or, as they call it at Zappos, WOW service — is all about. Once you read the following excerpt, you’ll understand two things. First, you’ll figure out why Zappos quickly became the biggest online shoe store. Second, you’ll know the company is not exaggerating in calling it WOW service.

Ken Blanchard

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

We receive thousands and thousands of phone calls and e-mails every single day, and we really view each contact as an opportunity to build the Zappos brand into being about the very best customer service and customer experience. Looking at every interaction through a branding lens instead of an expense-minimization lens means we run our call center very differently from most call centers.

Most call centers measure their employees’ performance based on what’s known in the industry as “average handle time,” which focuses on how many phone calls each rep can take in a day. This translates into reps worrying about how quickly they can get a customer off the phone, which in our eyes is not delivering great customer service. Most call centers also have scripts and force their reps to try to upsell customers to generate additional revenue.

At Zappos, we don’t measure call times (our longest phone call was almost six hours long!), and we don’t upsell. We just care about whether the rep goes above and beyond for every customer. We don’t have scripts because we trust our employees to use their best judgment when dealing with each and every customer. We want our reps to let their true personalities shine during each phone call so that they can develop a personal emotional connection (internally referred to as PEC) with the customer.

Another example of us using the telephone as a branding device is what happens when a customer calls looking for a specific style of shoes in a specific size that we’re out of stock on. In those instances, every rep is trained to research at least three competitors’ Web sites, and if the shoe is found in stock to direct the customer to the competitor. Obviously, in those situations, we lose the sale. But we’re not trying to maximize each and every transaction. Instead, we’re trying to build a lifelong relationship with each customer, one phone call at a time.

A lot of people may think it’s strange that an Internet company is so focused on the telephone, when only about 5 percent of our sales happen through the telephone. In fact, most of our phone calls don’t even result in sales. But what we’ve found is that on average, every customer contacts us at least once sometime during his or her lifetime, and we just need to make sure that we use that opportunity to create a lasting memory.

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This Reviewer

  1. Ken Blanchard is the chief spiritual officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm, and cofounder of the Lead Like Jesus Ministries. His books, which include The One Minute Manager (with Spencer Johnson; William Morrow, 1982) and Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service (with Sheldon Bowles; William Morrow, 1993), have sold nearly 20 million copies in more than 27 languages.

This Excerpt

  1. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Business Plus, 2010) by Tony Hsieh
  2. Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Inc., an online retailer that was acquired by in November 2009 in a deal valued at US$1.2 billion. He also cofounded LinkExchange, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1998 for $265 million.
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