Splash Talks


Tony Hsieh's standing-ovation speech

At Vator Splash, Zappos CEO explains why the online retailer exists to serve the customer

Innovation series by Bambi Francisco Roizen
May 17, 2010 | Comments (7)
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Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, received a standing ovation for his presentation last week at Vator Splash, where the top 10 finalists of the Vator Splash competition pitched and seasoned entrepreneurs gave their lessons learned onstage. I don't believe I've ever been to a technology/entrepreneur event where speakers receive a standing ovation.

But Vator Splash is not just a tech event with presentations designed to give the audience an update on industry trends. Splash is where keynote presenters inspire and teach the audience on how to be better entrepreneurs.

Tony did just that. You should watch the whole presentation (this is the first 30 minutes of the presentation), but here are my key takeaways.

1) Because Zappos believes so much in its unique company culture, it is allowed to run autonomously from Amazon. The pre-requisite for being purchased by Amazon was to be able to "remain independent."

2) One brand that Zappos looks up to is Virgin

3) The philosophy about marketing is that the money that would typically go toward marketing should go toward fulfilling customer service

4) Seventy-five percent of orders come from repeat customers. In Q1 2010, revenue grew 50% quarter-over-quarter.

5) What is customer service?

a) Free shipping both ways

b) 365-day return policy

c) 1-800 number prominently visible on all pages (even though only 5% of orders come from the phone)

d) Call center operators don't have scripts

e) Call center operators are not allowed to upsell

f) Call center operators much check up to three competing Web sites for items if Zappos is out of stock

g) There are no limits on customer service calls. Longest customer service call lasted six hours

h) Customer service isn't just a department, it's the whole company

i) Surprise upgrades to overnight shipping

j) Warehouse runs 24/7

6) If companies get the company culture right, delivering great customer service happens naturally.

7) Zappos has an annual culture book made up of employee feedback about Zappos' company culture. Post a comment here if you want a culture book, and we’llget you a free culture book from Tony.

8) What ties this altogether is that Zappos is about delivering happiness

9) Go to 23:33 where Tony talks about the company’s corevalues.

The top 10 are:

Deliver WOW Through Service

Embrace and Drive Change

Create Fun andLittle Weirdness

Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded

Pursue Growth and Learning

Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

Do More with Less

Be Passionate and Determined

Be Humble


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Alex Backer
Alex Backer, on May 17, 2010

Thanks, Bambi! Where can I find the rest of his talk?

Chris Caceres
Chris Caceres, on May 17, 2010

Hey Alex, it should be published tomorrow morning.

David Kowalski, on May 19, 2010

World class talk.. Enjoyed it and have plenty of concepts to implement. Thank you.

Franck Martin
Franck Martin, on May 25, 2010

This was a very good speech, well done team.

While Tony was presenting finding the person that best fit the enterprise (culture/skills), isn't it the role of the enterprise/CEO also to best use the person knowing its skils and issues?

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on May 25, 2010

I don't think Tony gets into your question, but I imagine that employees also look to their managers to guide them toward the right job. So, I agree that it's probably a good CEO/company that can spot talent in a person that the person can't see in themselves.

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on May 25, 2010 - Here you go Alex

Karan Jassar, on August 14, 2010

Thx for the post. Zappos is an excellent example of how to do it right.

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