Every few years a company emerges by establishing its name, and undying customer loyalty, by providing unbelievable customer service. If you’ve ever dealt with Nordstrom (department stores) you know the experience. Others in this lofty category include L.L. Bean, Four Seasons Hotels, Apple, Starbucks, and Lexus. And, of course, Zappos.
Zappos is an Internet retailer that sells shoes. If you think about it, the one thing that should be all but impossible to sell on the Internet is shoes. Have you ever purchased shoes without testing the fit? Typically I try on many pairs before making a selection. Having wide feet sucks, although I can float upside-down in a swimming pool.
To solve this problem, Zappos adopted an insane customer service approach. No matter what you buy, shipping is always free (no minimum). And so is return shipping. No questions asked; no hassles ever.
You can, for example, order three different sizes of a given shoe and keep just the one pair that fits best. You have up to 365 days to return the other two pair. You can even return all three pair.
If, by chance, you purchase something on February 29 (leap day), you have until the next leap day to return it. That’s an unbelievable four years, and sometimes eight. Like I said, insane.
Zappos’ CEO Tony Hseih recently revealed a key component of their formula. It’s something that 70,000 other businesses are now doing to improve their own customer service. Your business can too.
Zappos not so secret weapon is a “cloud-based” community called GetSatisfaction. This social media software allows you to create a community of customers and your support personnel. In short, it’s a new social media form of the traditional customer support forum. But it’s more than that. It’s the ultimate embodiment of “the wisdom of crowds” meets “knowledge capture and reuse.”
According to Hseih, “There’s a simple reason that we were one of the first to raise our hands at Zappos and start using GetSatisfaction: A lot of our approach to making people happy with timely, human customer service is already baked into this product. They get it.”
“GetSat” as fans call it, allows your customers to type a question in normal language syntax and then suggests possible matching questions for which it already has answers. While you can see the leverage in that, it gets better. If the user doesn’t find a relevant question and answer, he or she can post the question for other customers to answer. And they often do.
People like to share what they know, either to show that they’re smart or to be helpful. Either way, they’re answering support questions before your support team has to. Your team simply reviews the proposed answers and approves them, rejects them, or edits them for accuracy. Thus, customers and your support team share answers, ideas, and solutions. This decreases the load on your support team, and more importantly, you get the benefit of “none of us is as smart as all of us.”
Companies that use GetSat report on average:
- 89% reduction in customer support load (that’s roughly a 10X gain!)
- Increased sense of customer community (after all, it’s the happiest, most knowledgeable fellow customers that participate)
- Improved customer satisfaction scores
To get started, go to www.GetSatisfaction.com and sign up for the small business edition for $425 per month. It’s the best ROI you’ll ever experience in business. Seed the database with your current FAQs and then promote participation to your customers.
What’s not to love? You can reduce costs and get better results. You’ll be following the same customer service excellence template as Zappos. Yes, social media tools can actually save you more time (and money) than they require. And improve results. GetSatisfaction proves it.