In “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose,” Tony Hsieh touches on the importance of company culture as the secret to building Zappos.com’s success. This has been one of our favorite books around the office. It’s an easy read, and has some really impactful lessons.
- Culture - “Culture became our number one priority, even more important than customer service. We thought if we got the culture right, then branding our brand to be about the very best customer service would happen naturally on its own,” (page 134). They even compiled a book that described and documented their culture. “We would ask employees to write, in a few paragraphs, the answer to the question: What does Zappos culture mean to you? Except for correcting typos, we would leave it unedited and publish everything in a book,” (page 138).
- Community and Purpose – Speaking to the issue of building community around the company, Hsieh talks about “the value of a tribe where people truly feel connected and care about the well-being of each other,” (page 76). “We had been bound by a common purpose in the beginning: to form a community… But we lacked a shared purpose beyond just hanging out and partying,” (page 86). Later they discovered the purpose of providing great customer service, and eventually, the purpose to “deliver happiness” to the world.
- Branding – “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand… For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny,” (page 184). He defines branding as a result of all interactions with customers, stressing every customer service phone conversation as an opportunity in branding, (pages 143-145). This is why Zappos Customer Service Representatives are given the freedom to spend as much time as needed with callers, with the goal of “wow”ing them.
Remarkable and unique customer service, a greater company purpose (to “deliver” happiness to the world), and a second-to-none company culture have led Zappos to be a leading company, and one of our most Admired Companies.