In Business: It’s Not About The Product. It’s About Exceptional Customer Service

There are very few, truly great companies.

When you find one, look to the example.

In fact, let’s look at two great business examples.  Both companies sell much more than just a product.  They sell customer service.

The first example is:  Zappos.

What is Zappos?

Zappos is like a candy store for women.

Zappos is famous for selling shoes.

But Zappos really doesn’t sell shoes. What they sell is customer service – which translates into customer satisfaction and Zappos advocates a plenty. Women telling other women about shopping and buying at Zappos.

When you go to the Zappos website, www.Zappos.com, you will see the company philosophy clearly stated on the main page, “We Are A Service Company That Happens To Sell.” They live what they preach.

Zappos knows who their customer is and what the customer wants. Women want to accessorize the clothes they wear. And accessories begin with shoes (though many women probably consider shoes essential, rather than an accessory). Men usually only have a few basic shoes in the closet. But women often have many pairs of shoes to suit different styles, seasons, moods and outfits.

Zappos boasts one million pairs of shoes within their inventory. Anyone can stock one million pairs of shoes. Zappos makes it easy and attractive for the customer to buy in order to keep the one million shoe inventory fresh, stocked and with the latest shoe styles.

The Zappos website is easy to navigate, has multi-view pictures of every shoe and color, narrow to wide shoe widths, a range of prices plus special discounts and sales, live on-site chat plus 24/7 customer service by phone, customer reviews/ratings of each shoe style, a weekly drawing for a free pair of shoes and the list goes on.

To put the icing on the customer service cake that is served up on this site, Zappos offers their famous free shipping – free exchanges – and free return policy. No shipping charges! This takes away any hesitancy the customer may have to place an order. It keeps the inventory (and the sales) moving.

Why go any place else to buy shoes? Especially when you can go window shopping for shoes from the comfort of your home, order shoes from the comfort of your home, try shoes on from the comfort of your home! Even have UPS pick up returns/exchanges from your home – all at no cost!

But there’s more!

Zappos features a 365 day, free return policy on unworn shoes. No questions. No hassle.

And if you ever have to call customer service and talk to a live person, you will find Zappos to have some of the very best service you’ll ever encounter. Zappos hires people that want to work for the company and embrace the company philosophy.

I am sure there is a percentage of loss associated with the profits at Zappos. That is inevitable in every company. But the benefits of consistently delivering the Zappos customer service philosophy far out weighs any losses. It’s a winning formula for both Zappos and the customer.

The second great business example is: Nordstrom.

Another great company also famous for shoes is Nordstorm, the department store. Nordstrom started out as a shoe store in Seattle, WA, in the early 1900s. According to the Nordstrom website, www.Nordstrom.com, today Nordstrom is recognized as a fashion specialty store chain with locations throughout the United States. Nordstrom is renowned throughout the retail industry for customer service, generous size ranges and a selection of the finest apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family. Yet, as a company, Nordstrom has never forgotten its successful origins: shoes and superb customer service.

The Nordstrom website also states: The company’s philosophy has remained unchanged for more than 100 years since its establishment by John W. Nordstrom in 1901: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.

So there you have it: a tale of two service companies that both sell shoes… and more. One an internet company and the other well-known for its brick-and-mortar stores.

As a CEO, president or business owner, you need to identify businesses inside and outside of your particular industry that consistently perform at a high level of customer service. Pattern your company after companies who already do it well yet fit with your company’s mission.

Your employees are your customers too. They buy your ideas and direction. They look to you as the example to follow. Consider how to serve them best.

One final note: Directly under the Zappos website logo, it says: Powered By Service.

Is your company powered by service?