This is an awesome list that doesn’t have to be just for small business – found on the American Express Small Business Blog.
Stories of Zappos, the online shoe retailer, and how they have pioneered a new way of doing customer service, using social media, and selling products online are now all over the business and trade media. From their policies such as paying new recruits to quit within their first 60 days (arguing it costs less in the long run) to having a manifesto of ten principles that guide their customer service team, Zappos has a model that many are trying right now to replicate.
Whether or not you think that the Zappos model may work for your business, there are definitely some lessons you can take away from their 10 guiding principles. Here they are along with some thoughts on how you might be able to apply them to your small business:
1. Deliver WOW Through Service. This is all about doing more than the expected. Solving a customer’s need is the baseline and of course you always want to try and do that through customer service. Delivering a “WOW” is open to interpretation, but certainly means doing more than the basics.
2. Embrace and Drive Change. In many businesses, people are afraid of change. Change means more work. Change means you might do something wrong and potentially lose your job. Embracing change, however, is about adapting to your circumstances and not being afraid. Innovation comes from embracing and driving change.
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness. Nothing is as empowering for employees as encouraging them to have fun and do things in a different way. Fun and wierd are not two words you typically see in any sort of customer service group – yet for Zappos it is a strong part of why they have such a fiercely loyal workforce.
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded. Encouraging creativity is something that can often be frowned upon because you are trying to enforce rules – but this flexibility is also a big part of making employees feel empowered to do their job and think outside of what their job tells them to do.
5. Pursue Growth and Learning. The most successful organizations are ones that allow their people to grow their knowledge in order to do their job better. Making education, training and knowledge building a priority in your business sends a message that you care about working smarter and are willing to support your employees who try to find ways to do that.
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication. Honesty is the key word here, as it is easy to think it is better to keep specifics of your business to yourself and not share them with your employees. Being honest about the state of the business can help you to get more commitment from your employees to do what needs to be done to make it better.
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit. Most people would agree that a team should be like a family, but in practice they don’t act that way. A family spirit means a level of trust and dedication that should be your goal at your business. Positivity is something that comes with that.
8. Do More With Less. Too often, it is easier for employees to rely on resources being provided by “the company” in order to get their jobs done. Encourage them to think about how they can do more with less, and then reward them for it. Those dollars they end up saving the company can really add up.
9. Be Passionate and Determined. There really is no substitute for passion when it comes to getting things done. Sometimes you can inspire that passion with employees, but the best way to get it is to hire people who are passionate themselves about what they do and about what you do.
10. Be Humble. Humility is attractive for employees and for customers. It means that success doesn’t go to your head and that you can maintain a real perspective on what is truly important. This is also one of those qualities that comes from the top, so to inspire humility in your company means that you need to live up to that lesson yourself.