Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who doesn't love a Zappos staffer?

I LOVE that a message from Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh and senior VP of merchandising Fred Mossler (singing “Jingle Bells”) plays when you call the online shoe retailer's customer-service hotline. is not only known for delivering top-shelf customer service, but it's a standout among companies that make consumers truly understand its corporate culture. Hsieh and fellow employees are even accessible on Twitter, where he writes engaging, interesting and sometimes amusing updates about Zappos' office life.

It's funny, whenever I hear stories about any Zappos staffer, I feel like I'd want to be their friend. Do I get the same feeling about employees from other retailers too? Not always. There's just something about Zappos that makes everyone who works there so darn cool. I first came to this conclusion when I heard Tony Hsieh speak at the eTail conference back in 2007. He told the following story:

After a long day at a sales conference, Hsieh and some colleagues anonymously dialed the Zappos call center to see what would happen if they asked for a pizza delivery to the Santa Monica area. “The rep put him on hold and came back a few minutes later with a list of the five closest pizza places in Santa Monica,” he said. “If you get the culture right, you don’t need to come up with a policy and procedure for everything. And if that were a real customer, I’m sure it would be a story that would be relayed to all of their friends.” (Read the full story here.)

To find passionate candidates who fit in with their corporate culture, also uses innovative hiring practices, including "The Offer," in which the company tests the enthusiasm and commitment of new hires by offering a $2,000 bonus to quit. New hires are told about the offer at the end of the first week of their four-week training class. But seriously, who would want to quit? also uses a recruitment application from Jobvite to support hiring, promote the company’s culture and use social-recruitment techniques. The retailer’s staffing team reaches out to candidates through social-networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, and uses Jobvite to channel the resulting candidate applications. does so many things right in my mind—no wonder I want to be friends with all of the employees who made it that way.

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