In June of 2016, a team of Paris Jewellers Brand Ambassadors ventured to Las Vegas for the internationally recognized JCK Jewellery Show. This trip included dozens of educational seminars, the opportunity to meet and network with industry colleagues, and of course check out the latest and greatest in jewellery trends, technology and fashion.
A highlight of our trip was the opportunity to participate in a tour of the renowned online retailer Zappos.com headquarters. If you have not heard of Zappos.com, we would recommend checking out the CEO Tony Hsieh’s best selling book “Delivering Happiness”, it offers terrific insight into Tony’s unique career, the steps and missteps he has taken along the way, and how he found himself living in an Airstream Trailer (with two alpacas!), running one of the most successful online retail operations in the world.
Our tour of Zappos.com started in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, where the Zappos.com team in recent years bought and converted the old Las Vegas police station in to an immense open-concept “office” space. We use the term “office” lightly, as the Zappos.com space is far from anything that could be categorized as corporate. We walked through the circular courtyard in the centre of the building, to find that the entire space was transformed into a Nintendo themed launch event to celebrate the new “Vans” Nintendo shoe line. Later in the day there would be a big party for all of the staff, including a DJ, yummy treats like corn dogs and cotton candy, an artist painting a giant “Luigi” portrait, and of course dozens of brightly coloured Van’s shoes on display…just another day at Zappos.com, we would discover!
Upon entering the building, we were greeted by a mural of “chopped neckties”, if you arrive at Zappos.com wearing a tie, they will literally cut it off you – but you will let them, because this crazy place has a charm and energy that you will buy into immediately, even if it feels a bit odd – because literally everyone is authentically happy to be there and excited to tell you why. So, you let them cut off your tie and run with it.
We had a quick orientation, which briefly introduced us to the Zappos.com core values, the history of the company, and what to expect on our tour. After our orientation, we were encouraged to grab a bag of popcorn (um, yes please!) and then split up into two groups, each led by a Zappos.com team rep – who’s enthusiasm was seriously contagious. Our guy Rio played the ukulele and sang us a song. Charmed much? Yup.
Rio started us off in the HR department, who’s team had fully committed to transforming their space into a literal jungle. Not just a few cute jungle-y items here and there…no no, we are talking vines from the ceiling and a giant stuffed elephant and giraffe! Zapponians, as we would learn throughout the tour, are invested in making their spaces their own. They even have a “conflict resolution” ball pit. Have a beef with someone? In the pit you go! We imagine many minor issues are solved quickly, because well, you are in a BALL PIT, and that is just silly! Giggles and conflict resolution? Ok Zappos.com, we see you.
We rode up in the elevators (equipped with large televisions screens that allow you to play virtual bowling while you ride), to one of the floors occupied by the hundreds of Customer Loyalty Team agents. This is where we got into some of the real method behind the madness. The CLT teams (all Zappos.com employees actually) start out their career with a highly immersive, intense training program – during which, recruits are offered a pay-out to NOT continue on the Zappos.com train. Zappos.com is serious about buy-in. You don’t just “like” Zappos.com, you ARE Zappos.com.
After the intense training period, and much mentorship from cohorts (not managers) the CLT’s are ready and empowered to start taking calls. Side note: Zappos.com operates on a system of Holacracy – which, in it’s most basic of terms means that there is no formal hierarchy within the company. It’s a pretty radical concept that you can learn more about here: https://www.zapposinsights.com/about/holacracy, and here: http://www.holacracy.org/how-it-works/).
Something that stuck with all of us, was that because of the intense training, full Zapponian buy-in, and the autonomy afforded to CLT’s, every customer receives a “one call resolution” experience. Rio shared with us how this can sometimes lead to interesting interactions, like the one time a customer called in to ask the Zappos team to order him a pizza! The CLT’s response? “What toppings would you like sir?” Extreme and a little ridiculous? No doubt. But it goes to show the level of commitment this team has for their customers. And do you think that peperroni-loving customer will think of Zappos.com next time he’s making an online purchase? Heck yes.
The 10 Core Values of Zappos.com is widely talked about and referenced, from businesses looking to define their own values, to start-ups and entrepreneurs inspired by the “flip traditional business operations on it’s end” attitude of the CEO. At Paris Jewellers, we too have our own Core Values, and it was very interesting to see how some of our own beliefs and philosophies about our business, at their root aligned in many ways with this mega-retailer.
Our team took away dozens of “ah-ha” moments from this tour, and while the day-to-day operations of a unicorn like Zappos.com aren’t realistically transferable to our business, there are absolutely opportunities that we are excited to implement in our company, inspired by the forward thinking, customer-centric vision of Zappos.com.
Here are the 10 Core Values of Zappos.com, with notes below about how some of them mirror our own, and how they have inspired us.
1. Deliver WOW Through Service
We talk a lot at Paris Jewellers about how we can “wow and delight” our customers. From an exceptional experience in-store, to a free “rush” shipping upgrade. We are totally on-board with this Zappos.com value and agree that unprecedented “wow” service is what will not only care for your customer in the short term, but will help build life-long loyalty.
2. Embrace and Drive Change
Aligning with our own core value of a “Can Do Attitude”, we appreciate fully that truly the only constant in life is change. So why not embrace it? Drive it. Yes let’s!
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Zappos.com has cornered the market on this one – creating fun and a little weirdness is 100% something that all Zapponians seem to embrace with open arms. They have an entire team called “Fungineers” (Fun Engineers). Who doesn’t want to be a fungineer?!
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Being adventurous and creative can feel intimidating to a lot of people – pushing them far outside of their comfort zone. But we know, even from our own experiences at Paris Jewellers, that if you are open-minded, and know that you can trust your team to support you wholly, then the risk of being adventurous, or the vulnerability of being creative quickly become exciting opportunities for growth.
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
The Zappos.com team employs a goal coach, who helps team members determine where they see themselves within the Zappos.com operation, and if they have goals and dreams of advancing, they are provided with opportunities to take courses, mentor with experienced team members, and borrow at any time from the hundreds of professional development books available to all Zapponians to learn from. We love this and were inspired to start our own “library” at Paris Jewellers. We even hold reading contests for all of our Brand Ambassadors, to encourage personal growth and then share their revelations with the team!
6. Build Open and Honest Relations with Communication
Our Paris Jewellers core value of “Responsiveness” overlaps this Zappos.com value in many ways. We truly believe that being responsive, in all of our actions – whether that is supporting a customer, emailing a vendor back quickly, or jumping into action to help a colleague is extremely important. Being responsive and transparent is imperative to building trust.
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Team is everything. If you haven’t read the Jim Collins book “Good to Great”, we highly recommend picking it up. We have even provided a copy of this book for all of our team members to read! It delves deep into the concept that “the right people, in the right seats, on your bus” will enable you as a company, to swiftly and successfully move forward. And when you have a the right people, with a supportive family spirit, positivity and commitment easily follow.
8. Do More With Less
Being lithe as a company is crucial when facing any challenge. Whether you are setting yearly budget and sales goals, recruiting new team members, or dealing with economic up and downturns. Doing more with less, being flexible and supple, strong and strategic, is the mark of a company who will gracefully and creatively maneuver around any and all challenges.
9. Be Passionate and Determined
This core value, if you have the opportunity to visit the Zappos.com headquarters, is evident in every interaction. The team is unquestionably passionate, and you can sense their innate determination to be and do the best they can for their customers and for Zappos.com. Inspirational!
10. Be Humble
If there was a core value that we would ever consider adding to the Paris Jewellers set, this would be a top contender. As a team, we believe wholeheartedly that being humble opens our hearts and minds to gratitude for all that we have. When your entire team is moving in the same direction, egos become major road blocks for your bus. Arrogance and pride cause that bus to break down! If you send humility, kindness and gratitude out into the world, you can be sure that is what you will receive in return, continuing the cycle of positivity, resulting in forward momentum and success.
Visiting the Zappos.com headquarters was an experience unlike any other, and we are thrilled to share it with you! Thanks for reading about our Zapponian adventure!