Zappos is the world’s largest retailer of shoes, selling about 50,000 varieties. Although the subsidiary of Amazon.com is known for the volume of shoes and accessories that it sells, the retailer also is recognized for its customer service. Zappos is legendary in the corporate world for its efforts to satisfy customers.
In December 2015, Jon Wolske, who is a “cultural evangelist” and public speaker for Zappos, lectured at the American Association of Equine Practitioners Annual Seminar. He delivered insight on Zappos customer service and culture to the veterinarians in attendance.
There are a few key lessons from his presentation that farriers can take away for their practices. All of the lessons are tied to Zappos’ core values. Every business should have and operate by core values. Wolske says that these words must have meaning and you, as the single practitioner, must run you business by living these words through action, not just listing them.
“These define who you are, not what you do,” he says.
One of the core values of Zappos is to deliver “wow” through service — exceed the customer’s expectations. Wolske says it may seem like we live in an age where “wowing” the customer is becoming more and more difficult. However, he finds it is easy to do without investing more resources or providing better pricing or discounts.
“You have to listen — that’s all you have to do,” he says. “This is the number one tool for a great customer experience. When talking with the customer, listen to the details that the customer tells you, these will tell you everything they need. The problem is we don’t spend enough time listening.”
Customer service has several steps. One step often overlooked is how the customer interaction is closed. Wolske says that you must always end with an offer of assistance for the customer’s future needs. Perhaps it is answering a client’s question over the phone, or a face-to-face interaction after returning to a barn to tack a shoe back on. The customer will feel appreciated, and that short sentence reinforces that you are a reliable practitioner.
Finally, sometimes no matter what you do, there will be clients who you just can’t make happy — there is never enough “wow.” Each farrier’s threshold for what is unacceptable behavior from clients is different. Wolske finds that the energy, time and resources invested in trying to satisfy the unreasonable client takes away from assisting those who appreciate your work. It is best, then, to fire the customer.
“You have to make the right decisions for helping the customer, but you also have to make the correct decisions to help yourself and your business,” he says.
Be tactful in the delivery when firing that customer, advises Wolske. He likes the explanation of “it’s not you, it’s me” — that you are unable to address the client’s current needs to the level they desire. He finds this disarms most people and leaves them with a more positive experience.
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