“I trust you.”
You may hear those words from a friend, a family member, or even a colleague. But from a big company? Not what you would expect.
But, I can tell you, trust from a big brand is possible.
My story starts with back-to-school season, always a stressful time of year. There are nerves to calm and endless things to do, like buying supplies and clothes. Like most time-starved moms, I take an online approach to back-to-school shopping. Except, in my case, to complicate matters, I have to comply with some rather strict school uniform policies. This includes solid black shoes. No logos. No designs. No grey*. Do you know how hard those are to find?
After hours of online sleuthing, I do. The uniform-compliant $50 pair on Zappos that come with high reviews and seem like they’d hold up to my very active 6-year-old son’s recess antics. I hit “buy.” When they arrive, he actually likes them. Score!
But, after 3 weeks of wear, I realized I hadn’t scored at all. The sneakers ripped, they peeled, they were battered.
I was livid! So, I did what any consumer in my situation would do. I got ready for retail battle. Armed with my iPhone, I took pictures of the beat-up kicks. Emotionally, I prepared for a bloodbath. I almost felt sorry for this company; they had no idea who they were about to deal with.
I log on early the next morning to show my evidence and make my case to the poor customer service rep that has to deal with me. “You are now connected to Jayson from Zappos.”
At 95 words-per-minute, I launch into my offensive. I tell him about the shoes and how awful they are. I ask him if he wants to see the photos (from multiple angles) I took – the evidence. Jayson’s response? “No, don’t worry about the photos. I completely trust you, Emily. :)”
Wait…what? When does a company actually say this to their customers? Jayson continued.
Jayson: “I would be more than happy to send a different pair if you have looked at other options. I can also fully refund you.” (What I was thinking: That was shockingly easy. I didn’t even have to ask.)
Jayson: “Take your time, Emily. I’ll wait here for you.” (He actually appreciates my time?! Now that’s respect.)
Jayson: “I would be happy to cover the price difference of those if you would prefer them. :)” (He’s going to send me a new pair, even if they are more expensive than the ones I bought? Is this real life?)
Jayson: “I don’t want to inconvenience you with having to return the original item. Please feel free to toss it out. I’ll send you an email saying we are not expecting it back.” (No, seriously…this isn’t going to be a total pain in the *$@?!)
Jayson (after I expressed my shock, awe, and appreciation for his service): “Aw, you’re so sweet!! We love you, Emily. Thank you for being so understanding and letting us find another option for your son! :)” (Yes, he loves me, too!!!! I think Jayson and I need to meet and become BFFs.)
My horror-turned-love-story with Jayson illustrates a very important point: Companies that get their customers stand out. Even when things go wrong, they go the extra mile to make it right. They talk to you like human beings – Jayson is proof of that. They’re dead serious about creating the best experiences possible for their customers. They trust you, and you trust them. It’s a mutual feeling of respect.
And all that creates loyalty. It’s what keeps customers like me coming back to companies like Zappos. Believe me, customers notice and feel good “brand behavior.” This is proven in Customer Quotient (CQ), a framework that measures how people feel about companies and the experiences they provide, all from the customer’s perspective. CQ shows that the closer a company is to its customers, the better it performs. And so it seems with Zappos. Its customer-first culture is the dominant contributing factor to the company’s growth.
Companies that trust, respect, and understand their customers win. So, congrats Zappos. You have a forever customer in me. And Jayson, when are we going to hang out again?
*I learned this lesson the hard way. Uniform infraction anyone?