Customer Service Heaven

From a recent N.Y. Times article by Michael Barbaro, headlined “Less Risk Seen in Purchasing Clothes Online”:

For the first time since online retailing was born a decade ago, the sales of clothing have overtaken those of computer hardware and software, suggesting that consumers have reached a new level of comfort buying merchandise on the Web.

One of the merchants mentioned the article is Zappos.com, “a popular online retailer of shoes, jewelry and clothing.” I first heard of Zappos just a few days ago, and what I learned about the company supported Barbaro’s suggestion that consumers are way, way happier with a certain kind of online merchant:

My wife had ordered a pair of sandals from Zappos. When they arrived, she found that they didn’t fit. She tried to order the right size, but Zappos was sold out of her size. So here’s what the company offered: she could return the sandals (for free), Zappos would refund the purchase price and they’d send her a $25 coupon toward her next purchase.

But wait — there’s more! Zappos also offered to try to locate a pair of the sandals in her size from another vendor. (Hah! Sure, they will!) Fifteen minutes later, the company called my wife and told her they’d found her sandals, in her size, at another online merchant — “and,” the Zappos clerk told her, “they’re even cheaper at this other site!”

I am a firm believer in rewarding good behavior, especially when the only alternative is to punish bad behavior. (For example, I would rather give a large tip to a hard-working taxi driver than give a penny to a menacing street beggar.) Guided by this principle, I can’t wait until I need a new pair of shoes, because I will be heading straight to Zappos.


CollegeCat

You've never heard of Zappos? You poor poor man.

I had a similar experience, where I had to return a particularly difficult pair of shoes 4 times to find my size. Shipping is always prompt, customer service is out of this world. In my opinion, the race is between Google and Zappos to run the world.

editorguy

Re: "In my opinion, the race is between Google and Zappos to run the world."

...And maybe Redfin, too, when they are national and have run the Realtors out of business.

furiousball

That's refreshing, can we get the CEO to an elected office?...nah that would ruin him or her.

SBGamesCone

Zappos is an amazing store. Why is it so hard for other companies to realize that customer service is the single most important aspect of their business model? Unhappy customers are customers you don't worry about because they are no longer your customers.

I applaud Zappos efforts and it kind of reminds me of the angle that Progressive takes on car insurance. They know that if they do the customer right, even if it means steering them elsewhere, that they will remember that.

M.B.

Wow! What terrific customer service! I'm impressed!

funkify_your_life

As a long time customer, Zappos s/b applauded for going above and beyond the call of duty re: customer support. Their inventory selection can't be matched, however, something is afoot with their prices. Zappos prices seem to be some of the highest on the web. But not to worry, they will price match 110% and based on my experience will bump up shipping to overnight! Running shoes ordered on a Wednesday afternoon, had them on my feet Friday afternoon.

blackmore

I've never heard of Zappos but this sort of customer service is not unheard of. I know atleast a few online florists who do a complete "refund and replace" as opposed to the usual "refund or replace", i.e. you get the order replaced and you won't even be charged.

Zephyr7

I am not easily impressed by companies' treatment of customers, but I had a very positive experience with Zappos that I won't forget. I'd highly recommend them to anyone.

DrCube

On the general topic of online clothing stores:
I once read a book by Bill Gates, written in about 1995 or so, where he predicted that you would be able to enter your measurements online and buy well-tailored clothes from internet retailers. I'm not sure how far off that technology is or whether it could be done cheaply enough, but I think it could put brick and mortar clothes stores out of business if no one ever had to buy poorly approximated standard sized clothes from them again. Is tailoring not something that can be efficiently mechanized yet?

Mack

Here's an interesting tie-in to this topic: (link)

Customer satisfaction pays off big time, and it's amazing that there are still businesses that don't get that.

improbable

Custom tailored clothing is indeed available on the web: beyondclothing.com sells custom-made fleece jackets and the like.

The easy part is taking your measurements, and typing them in. The hard part is communicating how tightly you want this jacket to fit... I often end up with two or three sizes from the same manufacturer, not because I'm a funny shape (the probelm custom sizing might solve) but because my opinion of how tightly various layers should fit is different to theirs.

vtgrad03

Now that you gave them some nice free publicity, and based on the service given to your wife... they'll probably GIVE you a pair of shoes!!

Casper

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com is a very strong believer in customer service and has even written the foreword to the forthcoming book "A Complaint Is a Gift" (2nd edition). They are true customer service stars!

Furthermore, the value of this kind of buzz and articles written about them is something money can't buy. It really just goes to show that customer service is BOTH a sales and a marketing function and your customer service staff are the MOST IMPORTANT people in your organization.

CollegeCat

You've never heard of Zappos? You poor poor man.

I had a similar experience, where I had to return a particularly difficult pair of shoes 4 times to find my size. Shipping is always prompt, customer service is out of this world. In my opinion, the race is between Google and Zappos to run the world.

editorguy

Re: "In my opinion, the race is between Google and Zappos to run the world."

...And maybe Redfin, too, when they are national and have run the Realtors out of business.

furiousball

That's refreshing, can we get the CEO to an elected office?...nah that would ruin him or her.

SBGamesCone

Zappos is an amazing store. Why is it so hard for other companies to realize that customer service is the single most important aspect of their business model? Unhappy customers are customers you don't worry about because they are no longer your customers.

I applaud Zappos efforts and it kind of reminds me of the angle that Progressive takes on car insurance. They know that if they do the customer right, even if it means steering them elsewhere, that they will remember that.

M.B.

Wow! What terrific customer service! I'm impressed!

funkify_your_life

As a long time customer, Zappos s/b applauded for going above and beyond the call of duty re: customer support. Their inventory selection can't be matched, however, something is afoot with their prices. Zappos prices seem to be some of the highest on the web. But not to worry, they will price match 110% and based on my experience will bump up shipping to overnight! Running shoes ordered on a Wednesday afternoon, had them on my feet Friday afternoon.

blackmore

I've never heard of Zappos but this sort of customer service is not unheard of. I know atleast a few online florists who do a complete "refund and replace" as opposed to the usual "refund or replace", i.e. you get the order replaced and you won't even be charged.