Zappos.com is an online store that sells shoes and is slowly adding more and more products. That may not sound very impressive but they are on target for doing $1B in sales for 2008. For an 8 year old company, that’s not too shabby. I only first heard about Zappos.com at SXSW. Tony Hsieh the CEO gave a presentation on Top 10 Lessons Learned in E-Commerce. Below is the slide.

I was very impressed by his talk. It had nothing to do with technology or fads or tricks. Rather his talk was about good old customer service and treating the customer right. Very few companies go above and beyond the way Zappos does. Nowadays, companies want automated machines to be the first line of defense, with an actual human being the last thing they want their customer to interact with. He had many stories about Zappos customer service reps, who on their own, went out of their way to help customers. He’s instilled a culture of excellent service that has generated great word-of-mouth for Zappos.

Just to set the record, I have yet to actually BUY anything from Zappos. As much as I like shoes, I also enjoy the process of trying them on, touching and feeling my merchandise before I make a purchase. I know I can do that by ordering a whole bunch of shoes from Zappos and sending back the ones I don’t want for free. That just seems kinda wrong somehow.

Anyways, all I know from Zappos comes from my episode at SXSW and from various blogs and sites about startups and entrepreneurs. Which takes me to my story. I read somewhere that Zappos publishes an annual culture book for their employees. That book is available for purchase on their website. And since they had such happy customers as well as employees, I wanted to learn more about that by reading their book. Well, I spent a few minutes on the site and could not find it. Since I follow Tony on Twitter (cuz that’s how I roll), I decided to message him to ask where I could find his culture book. A couple hours later he messages me back asking my mailing address so he can mail me the book for free. We email each other back and forth for a bit and he invites me to take a tour of Zappos if I’m ever in Vegas. I was just in awe. This guy probably gets flooded with tweets and email all day, but he’s taking the time to personally respond to me. I’m not even a customer. I also get an email from Zappos saying that the book has been shipped with a tracking number. Having heard stories of their overnight deliveries, I was not suprised to see the book arrive at the office in the morning the next day.

I’ve briefly read bits of the Zappos 2008 Culture book which is basically a collection of every employee’s thoughts on the Zappos culture. It’s my impression that everyone sincerely loves being there. It’s both awe inspiring and contagious. With so many people working at jobs they either hate or have no feelings for, it’s refreshing to see a company that makes people excited to work there.

I want to end with a video that is currently featured on the bottom of the Zappos homepage. I’ll probably have to try buying something from Zappos.com now, but it probably won’t be shoes.

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