Tony Hsieh's standing-ovation speech

Bambi Francisco Roizen · May 17, 2010 · Short URL:

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

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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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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