Guest post by Ashley Furness, Market Analyst for Software Advice
In today’s Yelp and social media-obsessed world, customers are increasingly disenchanted with traditional marketing efforts. As a result, smart companies are looking for ways they can create a Zappos-level customer service culture.
â€œZappos invests in the call center not as cost, but the opportunity to market. Their whole strategy is to create loyalty through â€˜wow’ moments and emotional connections,â€ Joseph Michelli explained to me recently. He authored a whole book on the concept, called â€œThe Zappos Experience.â€
Want to know how you can recreate such a model? My company Software Advice started with looking at performance metrics.
Measuring Time-to-resolution? Wrong.
Zappos’s longest call on record lasted more than eight hours, and guess what? This interaction was lauded by leadership as a stellar example of serving the customer.
â€œIt’s more important that we make an emotional connection with the customer, rather than just quickly getting them off the phone,â€ says Derek Carder, customer loyalty operations manager for the Zappos.
Instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of a time an agent spends on the phone. Every agent is expected to spend 80 percent of their time on the phone, in chat or in an email response. This metricâ€“personal service levelâ€“is a way to empower the team to utilize their time how they see best promotes customer loyalty.
Focus on the Wow Moments
Zappos grades calls on a 100-point scale they call the â€œHappiness Experience Form.â€ Every agent is expected to maintain a 50-point average or higher. This score is based on several factors, including:
- Whether or not the CSR tried to create a personal emotional connection with the caller
- Whether or not the CSR continued the conversation if the customer responded positively
- Whether or not the CSR identified and responded to the customer’s unstated needs
- And whether or not the CSR gave a â€œwowâ€ experience or went above and beyond
The Trouble with Idle Chats
Zappos also monitors â€œabandonment time,â€ or periods when an agent has a chat session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat. The reason this is so important is two-fold:
- Idle chats are a symptom of chat avoidance – or the agent purposefully creating conditions so they don’t have to respond;
- and two, when agents aren’t responding, customers wait longer. The longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session
This strategy zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity in the chat settingâ€“idle chats–without deterring CSRs from expressing the values in the Happiness Experience Form.
Reward Perfect Attendance and Punctuality
Absenteeism can be a huge detractor from your customer service productivity. Zappos combats this trend with a program they call Panda. Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.
This decreases the days missed by employees, but also increases job satisfaction.
What other Zappos-level strategies does your company use to create a customer-centric culture? Let us know by commenting here.
Ashley Furness is a market analyst for research firm Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.