“I Wanna Be Like Zappos!”

Yes.  I’ve actually heard that more than once from business executives over the past two years. 

Though, unlike Gatorade’s famous “Be Like Mike” campaign, that set countless playground hoopsters up for disappointment, being like Zappos isn’t impossible.  But, it does take more than buying a bottle of sports drink (or a pair of shoes) to replicate Zappos’ success.  And, it also requires stopping some of the things that will prevent you from ever realizing this goal.

To help, here’s a list of Do’s and Don’t for giving your organization some reasonable chance of becoming Zappos:


  • Continue to cut your customer service budget year over year over year
  • Continue to funnel those dollars into your ad budget
  • Hide your 800 number; on your website, on your packaging, anywhere
  • Give your customers a reason to have to call customer service
  • Outsource your customer service to save money
  • Have customer service report to Marketing, Finance, Operations or anyplace else but your CEO
  • Evaluate customer service rep performance based on average handle time
  • View customer service as a function.  Its a culture, a strategy and a business model


  • Well…the opposite of all those things you just read
  • …and
  • Outsource other stuff like Finance and HR (and insure that your partners are contributing to your customers’ positive experience, not eroding it.  Yes, these functions matter in the customer experience.  Where do you think most customer dissatisfaction starts?  Its not in customer service)
  • Fix said upstream issues that are driving customers to call you or tweet bad things about you
  • Invest the savings and efficiency gains from outsourcing these non-core functions into your customer experience design and execution
  • Fly to Las Vegas and tour Zappos headquarters.
  • Read this book
  • Talk to your customers…no I mean really talk.  Remeber this commercial?
  • Look in the mirror

What else is your company doing that is inconsistent with delivering happiness?

Fix those and then…Zap!(pos).  You’re on your way.

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