I’ve Been Zapped

I’ve just attended the Front End Innovation Conference in Boston where every speaker highlighted the importance of workplace culture. Next stop was Las Vegas and after three days of intense learning and connecting at the Boston conference, Vegas was certainly confronting. It’s big, larger than life and full of fakes including a fake Venice, Paris and New York.

Vegas has never featured on my 100 cities I’d like to visit before I die list. If it weren’t for presenting at a conference, I would not have landed there. So I sent an email requesting a tour and an interview and that’s how we landed at Zappos.com, a billion dollar on-line shoe and clothing business.

Zappos has a workplace culture worthy of bottling and delivering to every organisation on the planet! Employees at Zappos are 100% customer centred. They were all smiling. And the smiles were genuine.

Zappos is designed to encourage serendipitous collisions, (gatherings) crucial to birthing ideas, solving problems and ensuring an innovative heartbeat. The drinks machine is strategically positioned, as is the snack machine. There is a kitchenette on each floor with free food prompting ‘free’ conversation.

And leave your corporate mentality at home. Don’t wear a tie to a meeting or you will have it cut off. Literally. There are no work/home personas here. If you wouldn’t wear it at home, don’t wear it to work. Come only as 100% you!

Zappos’ ethos is one of giving, starting with the 1400 employees, who access fully paid health benefits, nap rooms, stocked communal kitchens, mothers’ rooms and even doggy daycare. Most precious is the gift of empowerment. The empowerment to decorate their space, nominate shifts and make their own decisions concerning customers.

Zappos customers are often recipients of unexpected gifts, anything from a bunch of flowers, to a handmade card or even cookies. It’s part of their Personal Emotional Connection strategy. So are untimed calls. The record is a four-hour call empathising with a lady who lost her husband. Departments are overstaffed ensuring customers don’t wait. The call centre prides itself on answering calls in less than 20 seconds.

It was magical overhearing a conversation between the receptionist and an employee that rang in. I don’t know what the employee said, but the receptionist replied, “Don’t worry about anything. We love you.”

When the time came to reluctantly leave, we requested directions to our next destination. Walking the Zappos talk, the staff brought out the shuttle bus and drove us there.

I have been well and truly Zapped. Why not Zapp a colleague or client in your workplace today?

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