If you are a shoe fanatic then you've probably heard about Zappos.com by now. If you don't know about this website, it's a site where you can find just about any shoe that's on the market. And now they're not just shoes, but they also sell clothes, accessories, housewares, and I could go on, but why should I when you could go to their website and check it out for yourself.
My first awareness of Zappos.com was last year when I read founder Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness and gave my review on Tossing It Out. I was impressed by the story and the company's philosophy. In the book there was a mention that Zappos was located in Henderson, Nevada which is near Las Vegas and that they gave facility tours. When I realized that I was going to be staying in Henderson during my recent visit to Las Vegas, I remembered that Zappos was there and made the Zappos tour a priority on my Vegas activity list. In my previous post I told the story of how I was able to make the connection to get on a special tour. This was to be a memorable day.
|Zappos Henderson, Nevada|
We found the Zappos building in an industrial center not far off the free way that will take you from Henderson to Las Vegas. If we had not had the address we might have missed it as I did not see any signs identifying the place. We parked and went to what appeared to be the main entrance. It was locked, but we could hear laughter coming from within--it sounded like a party and it seemed that a lot of people inside were having a good time. A delicious aroma of food--what I guessed to be barbecue--emanated from within the building. We found an open door that led to the kitchen from whence the smell wafted. A cook saw us at the door and directed us to the other side of the building.
Upon finding the proper door, we entered and were greeted by the friendly reception staff who had us sign in for the tour and receive our ID badges. Others joined us who would be taking the tour. They were from various marketing conventions that were being held in Vegas and had arranged for a special Friday tour.
As we looked about the reception area, my wife whispered to me, "Everybody looks so happy."
"Happiness is their specialty here," I told her. "Zappos delivers happiness and I guess they've done it with this group."
Once everyone had gathered for the tour we were led to a room where we watched a brief introductory video presented by Zappos culture guide Jon Wolske. The video explained the short version history of Zappos, but there were probably few in the room who didn't know the story already. I could tell these were avid Zappos fans who were there to learn. This is one of the primary goals of the Zappos tour--to show other retailers and web site owners how a successful dot com works and teach them how they can apply the knowledge to their own business. I am impressed by the Zappos willingness to share and to teach others in business.
We were divided into groups of eleven to make things more manageable for our guides and comfortable for us. I was glad that our group was led by Jon Wolske. He was friendly, helpful, and quite entertaining. We were also accompanied by a department manager by the name of Jessica Davis. There was not an unfriendly person in the building.
|Zappos Henderson, Nevada|
Jon led us through the various departments of the call center. There is no product in this location as the shipping warehouse is near Louisville, Kentucky. Everyone is free to dress pretty much as they like so long as it is not offensive. They can also decorate their work spaces as they like. Certain work areas had special themes. Everywhere we went we saw happy employees who looked like they were having one heck of a good time.
Next we continued to the room from where my wife and I had earlier heard the laughter. It was the cafeteria. Most employee food and drink here is free. Employees also can opt for hot meals for three dollars. Anyway you look at it, the employees get quite a food bargain. Jon told us that the only drinks they do charge for are the energy drinks. We were invited to help ourselves to a snack before we moved on.
Heading to another area filled with workstations with phones and computers, we could see more employees having a good time at work. Jon explained that on a Friday there were not as many people working as on the other weekdays, which is why they normally don't have Friday tours.
Zappos attempts to avoid the negative connotations of "customer service" and instead cultivates customer loyalty. They want customers to come away from their experiences dealing with Zappos feeling good about it and telling their friends. The intent is to keep customers coming back to become regular shoppers.
The tour was filled with more information than I'll share here today. What I will say is that the staff was welcoming and delightful. This is a company that I would want to deal with because I think they genuinely have an interest in pleasing the customer in order to keep them loyal. Learning about the culture of the company made me envious that there are not more places like this to work in. If I lived in the Las Vegas area I would like to have a job at Zappos.com.
At the end of the tour our group was gathered at the Throne of Royalty to have our photo taken. It's the photo you can see below. That's me sitting on the throne. The other tour members encouraged me to sit in the throne. I guess because I looked the oldest. My wife is the beaming lovely lady standing in the center forefront of the photo. Don't we look like a happy bunch? Our hosts sent each of us on our way with a copy of Tony Hsieh's book and another book about the employee culture. Every one of us left satisfied. Once again Zappos delivered.
|Our tour group at the Throne of Royalty|
If you're interested in taking a Zappos.com tour you can find more information at:
Here's a video with testimonials about the Zappos experience:
One final note: I do not work for Zappos nor was I given any remuneration for this blog post. This is all based on the fun time I had visiting and for the valuable information I received on the tour. It was something I wanted to do.
Have you dealt with Zappos.com? If so, how was your experience? (My sister told me she has purchased several things from them and has always been pleased.) Are there any other company tours you have taken that were special experiences?