Customer Service and Company

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Individual Case Report: Firm Analysis
As a prospective employee of this company, this report seeks to outline Zappos, an online retailer specializing in shoes started in 1999, specifically the company’s mission statement, general objectives and strategies and delves into organizational structure and company culture. The company is noteworthy for three particular reasons: 1) It is the largest online retailer of shoes in the US but is slowly expanding into other product categories, 2) the company’s growth year-on-year has been astronomical and 3) Zappos top-rated customer service experience, which the company says is enabled by a deeply ingrained organizational culture standard that has resulted in the company being ranked #6 in Fortune’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For”. My sources for this outline was primarily the website itself and my own personal extremely positive first-hand and second-hand experiences as a customer of this company. Note that, significantly, Zappos now exists under the ownership of Amazon in a deal consummated in 2009. However, I have nevertheless chosen this company as it retains fully independent management and goals from its “parent” company.

Zappos lists just one mission: “to provide the best customer service possible”. This credo is also referred to internally as their “WOW philosophy”, which they define as delivering “WOW” to their customers every day. Such a statement is actually a distinguishing feature over other online retailers, including Zappos parent company Amazon whose mission statement, “ to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online”, notably focuses more on the venue and product as opposed to pure customer experience. Expanding on their straightforward credo with a little history, Zappos original mission was to be the website with the greatest selection of shoes on earth. However, in the company’s own words, “…over the past 9 years, the brand and aspirations have evolved, and in addition to offering the best selection, with the goal to be the company that provides the absolute best service online -- not just in shoes, but in any category.”

Objectives and Strategies for 2011
As of the end of 2010, market research group Forrester tabbed online retail as comprising 6% of all US retail transactions. The apparel, accessories and footwear categories that Zappos currently competes in has shown outstanding growth with sales in these categories alone up 17% from the previous year. In total, Zappos envisions online retail to one day account for 30% of all US retail transactions. Furthermore, the company believes that people will ultimately buy from the company with the best service and selection…and their aim is thus to be That Online Store: “Regardless of our structure, our goal is to position as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes….We believe that the most important key to our success will be our service-oriented culture, and we spend a lot of time and effort working on ways to constantly improve our culture.” One of the keys to the company’s lofty customer service standards is the speed of product delivery. Again, in their words: “We believe that the speed at which a customer receives an online purchase plays a very important role in how that customer thinks about shopping online again in the future, so at, we have put a lot of focus on making sure the items get delivered to our customers as quickly as possible.” In detailed terms, the company offers baseline free 2-day shipping service to anywhere in the continental US with optional upgrades to one-day overnight shipping for extra cost to the customer. (However, Zappos customer service is encouraged to give free shipping upgrades in many customer support cases.) To meet this goal, one of...
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