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(originally published by Booz & Company)


Putting the WOW in Service

The majority of phone calls don’t result in an immediate order. Sometimes a customer may be calling because it’s her first time going through the returns process, and she just wants a little help stepping through the process. Other times, a customer may call because there’s a wedding coming up this weekend and he just wants a little fashion advice. And sometimes, we get customers who call simply because they’re a little lonely and want someone to talk to.

I’m reminded of a time when I was in Santa Monica, California, a few years ago at a Skechers sales conference. After a long night of bar-hopping, a small group of us headed up to someone’s hotel room to order some food. My friend from Skechers tried to order a pepperoni pizza from the room-service menu, but was disappointed to learn that the hotel we were staying at did not deliver hot food after 11:00 pm. We had missed the deadline by several hours.

In our inebriated state, a few of us cajoled her into calling Zappos to try to order a pizza. She took us up on our dare, turned on the speakerphone, and explained to the (very) patient Zappos rep that she was staying in a Santa Monica hotel and really craving a pepperoni pizza, that room service was no longer delivering hot food, and that she wanted to know if there was anything Zappos could do to help.

The Zappos rep initially was a bit confused by the request, but she quickly recovered and put us on hold. She returned two minutes later, listing the five closest places in the Santa Monica area that were still open and delivering pizzas at that time.

Now, truth be told, I was a little hesitant to include this story because I don’t actually want everyone who reads this book to start calling Zappos and ordering pizza. But I just think it’s a fun story to illustrate the power of not having scripts in your call center and empowering your employees to do what’s right for your brand, no matter how unusual or bizarre the situation.

As for my friend from Skechers? After that phone call, she’s now a customer for life.

— Tony Hsieh

Copyright (c) 2010 by Tony Hsieh. Reprinted by permission of Business Plus, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.

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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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