‘Delivering Happiness’ is the title of Tony’s book, and the title of the talk that I saw recently live, hosted by the Entrepreneurs Association in San Francisco. I was pretty excited about hearing Tony talk, but I have to admit in retrospect it was slightly disappointing. To summarise, the talk had some great examples of how companies can get really creative about delivering on their purpose, and Zappos has some clever tactics (listed below), but I found the talk leaving me feeling empty. It’s hard to buy the argument of ‘Delivering Happiness’ when it’s delivered by a multi-millionaire. If I had heard the guy who stacks the shelves or the shuttle chauffeur driver tell us how happy they are, I’d have probably felt more compelled.

How Zappos Delivers Happiness

  1. If they can’t help you find your shoe, they’ll find you three alternatives providers and direct you to them.
  2. They ugrade your shopping to same day or overnight as a surprise
  3. Their number one principle is company culture not customer experience
  4. They hire in a rather unusual way. They have two interviews, the first one is about the role, the second one is about culture. Their performance reviews reflect this duality too. It’s 50% culture. If you aren’t boosting the culture, you’re out.
  5. Their on-boardng strategy is also unique. The first 4 weeks is training on the history of the firm, then it’s 2 weeks on the phones for everyone, no matter what level of seniority.
  6. “Customer service shouldn’t be a department, but the whole company.”
  7. At the end of the first 2 weeks you’re made an offer, your 4 weeks pay plus $2000, 2 weeks later if you decline the offer, it’s upped to $3000. What’s interesting, Tony said, is that if you choose to decline that money, you have to live with that decision, people really have to do some soul-searching about whether the job is right for them. You have to go home, tell you family that you declined the money, and be okay with that. It means that on Monday morning, people come to work super charged and really want to work here.
  8. They have a culture book that ‘s written by everyone.
  9. They use social media to connect employees with each other. twitter.zappos.com – it helps build company culutre. it aggregates employees’ interests via their tweets.
  10. They give free tours to anyone, they’ll pick you up at the airport and drop you back off there.
  11. Their reception has a library – a giving library, with inspiring books in it for anyone to take – including visitors.
  12. Their core values are ‘actionable’ and unique they claim. Google search any firms values and if you find a hundred other companies with the same virtues promised then what’s the point? – “We have interview questions against against each value”.
  13. Tony talks about how many firms say that they can’t emulate their values, but would like to. He says that’s not the point, you don’t have to. The power and effectiveness comes from alignment to values, commitment and reinforcement. Hire and fire against them.

Those were the most interesting ‘tactics’ that Zappos uses I think. However, to summarise, what’s really inspiring for me, is not what they do, but that they do these things at all. If a shoe outlet can be this innovative and attempt to create ‘meaningful’ work, work with a ‘higher purpose’, then what could your organisation do? How can you align passions to super-charge your workforce, to create more as a whole, than the sum of your organisation’s parts?