Monday, January 26, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Zappos' CEO: Measuring Success Through Customer Feedback

According to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, the proof of the pudding really is in the eating - so to speak. When your focus is providing the absolute best customer service above all else, feedback from your customers is all the proof that you need to show that your marketing is working. Read on for Proof's exclusive interview with Tony.

Katrina: When did you launch Zappos Canada? What metrics did you look at before deciding to cater to this market? Do you have plans to launch any other geographically-specific sites?

Tony: We launched Zappos Canada several years ago in response to requests from Canadians that wanted to be able to shop from us. We actually did not look at any metrics. We do not currently have plans for othergeographically-specific sites, but we do ship internationally to some countries from our regular Zappos site.

Katrina: What types of marketing do you employ at Zappos, and how do you measure the success of your marketing programs?

Tony: Most of the money that we would have spent on paid advertising we instead put into the customer experience (such as free shipping both ways, surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, 24/7 customer service, etc.).We've grown from no sales in 1999 to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2008. The #1 driver of that growth has been from repeat customers and word of mouth. We really view anything we do to improve the customer experience as a form of marketing because it drives word of mouth.

Katrina: It's clear that customer service is key to everything Zappos does. How do you measure the success of your customer service initiatives?

Tony: We receive comments from our customers and we also randomly survey our customers.

Katrina: As your main sales vehicle, your website is crucial to your business. What types of improvements have you made to this site over the years, and how did you build up the business case for each of these?

Tony: We are actually in the process of launching a new site, which we are internally calling "zeta". You can find it here:

Our original site was designed primarily to sell footwear. Today, we sell a lot more than footwear, including clothing, accessories, and even electronics. Zeta is designed to handle all the different product types.

Katrina: How is your marketing team structured and how large is your team?

Tony: We have a direct online marketing team that handles our keyword buys on search engines such as Google as well as our associate (affiliate) program. We also have a brand marketing team that handles some of our brand advertising, such as print or TV. Combined, our marketing team is about 15 people.

Katrina: What is your vision for Zappos ten years from now?

Tony: Hopefully 10 years from now people won't even realize we started selling shoes online. We just want the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and very best customer experience.

For the Zappos site, click here
For the Canadian Zappos site, click here
For Tony's corporate bio, click here
Follow Tony on Twitter

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