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Zappos, Twitter, and Engagement

Posted by Mark Bennett on May 19, 2008

A Twitter tweet alerted people to an interesting HBR article about innovative online shoe company Zappos. Zappos has enjoyed tremendous sales growth (from $70 million five years ago to $1 billion today) by offering the following value to its customers:

  • Huge selection (4 million pairs of shoes)
  • Fast delivery (promises 4 days, often delivers overnight)
  • Free delivery
  • Free returns

Excellent customer service is another key factor to Zappos’ success and this is achieved by having a highly engaged call center workforce. This engagement is enhanced by Trust in allowing employees a great deal of freedom in how they deal with customers, backed by 4 (paid) weeks of immersive training that focuses on strategy, culture and obsession with customers. In addition, a large number (>300) of the company’s 1,600 employees are on Twitter. For folks unfamiliar with what can be accomplished with Twitter, this represents a huge presence in a community of customers and employees (and yes, competitors as well), talking and listening to each other about what’s working and what’s not, what’s hot and what’s not, and basically anything else that provides the “pulse” of the market. The CEO, Tony, is right in there as well, further enhancing the Trust factor as well as providing him another insight into their market.


Furthermore, it turns out that after a week or so on the job, Zappos offers new employees in their call center the pay that they are owed + $1000 to quit. Why? Zappos wants to really know if the employee is truly engaged and this provides a relatively inexpensive way to find out sooner rather than later. In addition, the $1000 option can be (and has been) adjusted as needed (it has grown from $100 to $500 to $1000). This offers a clear, tangible demonstration of the level (and value) of employee engagement (which is typically thought of as very intangible) and how it can be arrived at through measurements like this vs. relying solely on surveys, etc.


6 Responses to “Zappos, Twitter, and Engagement”

  1. Meg Bear said

    now here is a post I can get involved in — I do love the shoes — even if I stay with a comfort-focused buying strategy. You forgot to mention the really cool thing about Zappos, you get the shoes right away. Seriously, the next day in the Bay Area. That kicks the pants off any other internet shopping I do. Not sure if that is a result of engagement or good inventory/order management systems (or both) but either way it makes me very inclined to buy again.

  2. Kathi Chenoweth said

    Oh, count me among the Zappos fan. I can testify to the customer service. They once sent me green instead of brown shoes. I called Customer Service and was SHOCKED yes SHOCKED at how helpful and accommodating they were. It is so sad when good customer service has to come as a surprise, isn’t it? I mean, I actually ended up keeping the green shoes, that’s how happy I was with the experience.

  3. […] Zappos, Twitter, and Engagement – Mark […]

  4. Kate said

    Wow, that’s a pretty rash decision on behalf of Zappos to make a proposition like that. See- this means people are willing to stay on with companies for reasons other than money!
    Over here in Australia 1 in 3 people leave an organisation because they don’t feel recognised. My boss always says that keeping your people engaged with your business is all about capturing their hearts and minds, so that they understand your organisation’s purpose and their contribution toward that. She’s put together a book called the Little Red Book of answers, she advises businesses over here about reward and recognition and incentives as well as leadership and management. In this FREE book she’s put the theory behind it and come up with meaningful ways to make staff feel awesome. Follow this link to get your copy if this interests you http://corporate.redballoondays.com.au/go/knowledge-bank/book-of-answers

  5. […] firms do a better job at it. This is exemplified in the way Zappos uses Twitter. As mentioned previously in this blog, Zappos uses Twitter to listen to customers and “represents a huge presence in a […]

  6. louise said

    Love the concept of testing the levels of engagement…but what I would love to know is how this was received by the employees and what the statistics were?

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