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22 Dec 2012 / Julie

zappos: customer service perfection

I follow Kendi Everyday. She has great style and always gives me great ideas on things to do with my own wardrobe that i’d never think to do. On her posts, she notes where her items come from, or links to a similar item for those of us trying to emulate a look (excellent customer service in itself!). Recently, she noted these shoes. When I went to look them up i noticed they were available in a TON of colors. Notably, the Black Soho Suede ($69) and the Black Suede ($75). I spent a few minutes flipping between the two photos trying to figure out what the difference in the two colors was before I gave up and searched for help. Enter Zappos Customer Service Perfection.

Win #1. Availability

It was super easy to find a way to contact someone at Zappos for help. I scrolled down to the bottom of the page i was on and in the footer there was a Contact Info link – which I opened in another tab to save my shoe page.

From there, I knew immediately that i could call 24/7 or chat. And hey look! I could Start a Conversation Now! Why yes, I think I will. I love chatting with customer service reps. It gives me ideas and makes me happy. Especially at 2am.

Win #2. Ease of Use

Once I clicked Start a Conversation Now! (and i love that they used the language of “conversation” instead of anything else – sets up the expectation of two humans coming together to solve a problem, relationship building, chatting with a friend, etc), I was presented with a lovely form which was easy to understand and fill out:

screenshot of zappos chat intake form

The form asks for the important stuff. Your first name (what do i call you?), your email address (how do i contact you if i need to follow-up), and your question (how can i help you?). Just the facts, ma’am. Love it.

Win #3. Zero Wait Time

Almost as soon as I finished reading the system-generated message of “Please wait while we find an agent to assist you…” I had Gustavo on the line pushing the welcome message (which might have been automated when he picked up my chat) and sending a personal greeting.

Thank you for chatting it up with Zappos today, my name is Gustavo M. and I’m happy to assist you.

Win #4. Personable Agents

Gustavo M. was my “agent” (as Zappos calls them – might also be native to the software they are using). He immediately opened with a very personable and lovely greeting:

Gustavo M.:  Hello, julie! I am reading your inquiry! More importantly how are you doing on this Zaptastic Friday night?”
Even an opener as brief as this shares with me so much wonderful information:
  • Gustavo is going to be helpful
  • Gustavo has a lovely personality
  • Gustavo is interested in his customers and how they are doing (which also helps gauge the frustration level  / opens the conversation so that he can get more info with which to help me)
  • Gustavo is aware of the importance of name use. (I note here, though, that he typed it exactly as I had originally – lower case – so either he was aware of people’s specificity with their own names (like danah boyd) or it was a system-generated thing. Either way, kudos).
(I’m sorry, with a name like Gustavo, I can’t help but repeat it. Often. Even if it’s not the real name of the person I was speaking to, it makes me happy. Gustavo.)

The entire chat was 24 lines long  and only a few minutes in time (no timestamps).  12 lines were his, 12 were mine. While I did have a fairly uncomplicated question (well, it was complicated but it didn’t have a lot of moving parts and work to be done to fix it), all of his responses were not just helping to answer my question but also to further our relationship and build rapport.

Here’s our chat in it’s entirety:

Thank you for chatting it up with Zappos today, my name is Gustavo M. and I’m happy to assist you.
Gustavo M.: Hello, julie! I am reading your inquiry! More importantly how are you doing on this Zaptastic Friday night?
julie: :-) I am doing fantastically, yourself?
Gustavo M.: That’s great, Julie! I am doing great as well! Thank you for asking.
julie: although it’s technically saturday morning here. i fell asleep under my christmas tree HAHA!
Gustavo M.: You fell asleep under your tree? Why where you sleeping under the tree, if you do not mind me asking?
julie: I was sitting under the tree, well near, doing some work, enjoying the lights. and i fell asleep. :-)
Gustavo M.: Awe that’s nice! I am happy it made you think of us! (At least I hope)
Gustavo M.: It will be my pleasure to assist you with your question about the item, Julie. Could you please provide me with the SKU-# above the price one the right hand side? I just want to make sure we are looking at the exact same item.
julie: yep, lemme grab it…
julie: SKU 7798031
Gustavo M.: Thank you!
julie: you’re most welcome!
Gustavo M.: I would suggest the “Black Soho Suede”, not because of the price. Personally I like the look of them more.
julie: that amuses me because they look *exactly* the same to me. what differences am i missing?
julie: I mean, they’re all the same shoe on that page – just different colors, yes?
julie: and the photo was taken slightly differently between the soho and the regular black. but beyond that, i can’t tell
Gustavo M.: They look exactly the same and I agree with you. From what I can see the “Black Soho Suede”, seems a lot smoother. Or it could be all the sugar I have eaten today.
julie: Hahah! well that settles it then – let the experiments commence – i will need to buy both to see whats what!
Gustavo M.: I understand that point.
Gustavo M.: I do apologize I could not be more help to you.
julie: No apologies needed! You gave me a laugh and confirmed i wasn’t crazy for thinking they were the same!! Thank you so much for your help this morning, Gustavo! (fabulous name, by the way)
Gustavo M.: Thank you very much! I hope you can see the difference and have a wonderful holiday!
julie: You as well! Have a great night, too!
Gustavo M.: Thank you!

Gustavo built rapport with me, didn’t let any of my comments be ignored (even if not directly related to the task at hand), offered his advice and helped solve my problem in a professional and yet personable manner. Many many kudos to Gustavo!

Win #5. Wrapping up

Once I wrapped up with Gustavo (i’m sorry, i really can’t help it), the experience continued to be awesome. I had two buttons available to me, PRINT and END SESSION. After I ended the session and clicked print, I was brought to a lovely screen where i could, you guessed it, print out my transaction.  But wait! There’s more! Call now and… you also had the ability to email yourself a copy of the transcript:

The entire interaction, from software interface to personal interaction, was perfection.

I had a note that there were no timestamps to be found anywhere – and I actually liked that. Gustavo was so present in our conversation that I didn’t feel the need for a timestamp to see how long it’s been since I’ve heard from him. It also took the time piece out of the equation – we’re just two friends, solving a problem together and time is no matter. I love that. I wonder if it was a conscious choice and why it was made.

Once Gustavo and I had determined that there was no way to determine the difference online, and i had accepted the challenge of seeing in person, the experience continued to be awesome. In 8 clicks I had two new pairs of shoes ordered.

  1. select size
  2. click “add to cart”
  3. click shoe name in cart to go back to item page (you’d be surprised how many online retailers miss this incredibly important piece)
  4. click second color
  5. click size
  6. click add to cart
  7. click “proceed to checkout”
  8. click “submit order”
Done. Couldn’t be simpler.

And because I am a Zappos VIP (another customer service story for another day), I know i’m going to get them on my doorstep before Santa arrives.

Thank you, Zappos, for being the shining example of customer service. Thank you, Gustavo for your assistance and for having the best name ever.

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