Exceptional leaders produce highly engaged organizations with high retention rates and advocacy from their customers and employees. What does it take to generate enviable customer zealotry and respected status as an employer of choice? How do you increase sales while retaining premium pricing during periods of fiscally constricted consumer behavior? Learn from Zappos.
Zappos began selling shoes online and grew to $1 billion in annual gross merchandise sales in a 10-year span with minimal advertising and an ever-expanding offerings. Leaders created an authentic, vibrant – albeit somewhat wacky – corporate culture. As Zappos established itself as a benchmark for excellent customer service, it was sold to Amazon.com for approximately $1 billion.
Try the Zappos leadership approach to grow your own small business:
- Culture eats strategy for breakfast (as well as lunch and dinner). Rather than emulating the core values of other businesses leaders, Zappos leadership asked “What does it take to be a success here?” Most businesses fail to differentiate themselves from the competition because they never take the time to understand what they uniquely value or possess. Do your cultural values reflect what it takes to be successful in your business or should you re-assess their credibility, uniqueness, and relevance?
- Select, defend, and account for values. Values are the lens through which all business decisions must be made. Zappos leaders attract, onboard, strategize, and measure against their values. Leaders maintain the focus on culture through employee performance discussions on a monthly basis. What can you do to more effectively select, defend and account for your company’s values?
- Get it right and make it right. To sustain a business advantage, you must consistently deliver quality service essentials. Leaders at Zappos understand that in today’s world, those basics include accuracy, customer ease, and speed (both in delivery and recovery). Zappos leaders model a willingness to acknowledge service breakdowns, make appropriate apologies, seek fair resolution of service shortcomings, and passionately pursue solutions to prevent future service errors. These behaviors help staff members turn a service error into a chance to strengthen relationships with customers. How do you model and lead operational excellence?
- Lead with PEC. Zappos builds on their platform of operational excellence by living and encouraging PEC (Personal Emotional Connections). By creating a workplace where distinctions between leaders and front line employees are virtually non-existent, supervisors engage personally with staff who, in turn, forge personal connections with customers. Does your leadership team treat your staff the way you want customers treated?
What Zappos inspired concept are you willing to embrace so that you will lead differently and more meaningfully tomorrow?
For more insights on effective leadership and Zappos “service velocity,” watch my webinar on demand: