Tony Hsieh has a secret that is elegant in its simplicity. It takes some out-of-the-box thinking and letting go to implement. By the focus of creating happiness on his two main customer groups: his company staff and his customers, he reached his goal of $1 billion in sales two years early.
While the numbers are impressive, the more extraordinary fact is the culture of happiness he produced internally and externally. When a customer receives flowers as a sign of appreciation how many people do you think they will tell? Probably not just one and maybe as many as a couple hundred because that kind of thing generates word of mouth.
If you asked everyone you met in one week how much they loved their workplace, how many do you think would answer in a highly positive way? My guess is it wouldn’t be many. We have learned, or been taught to tolerate our work environments, assuming that happiness wasn’t a necessary factor. There are alot of unhappy people working today.
As a creative brand consultant, business owners often ask me what marketing tools will give them the best return on their money. I think Hsieh’s model at Zappos might be the big answer. It takes thought and a loosening of control, it requires a hiring model that sparkles with elements that attract people who are aligned with the company values and embrace that environment. But in the end, it’s the least expensive marketing tool there is – great service – to everyone- internally and externally. An environment that is able to take itself seriously when it needs to but also cut loose and have fun with each other and customers as well. It’s an environment that aspires to treat everyone like they want to be treated – sounds just like the Golden Rule – pure wisdom.
Our culture has lost sight of the fact that acknowledgement is something we not only need but it helps people to thrive. Besides, it’s fun for the giver and the receiver. It’s win/win/win all the way.