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German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

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Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

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The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

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Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

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Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

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Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

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3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

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8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

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Customer Service: A Key Component to a Company’s Brand

Posted on: 01 July '11

On a recent trip back from India, I was reading “Delivering Happiness,” written by the CEO and Co-Founder of, Tony Hseih. In the book, Tony talks about how Zappos views its customer service as the core essence of the Company’s brand. For Zappos, this makes perfect sense; the customer experiences this right from their first visit to the Zappos website or while speaking to customer care. For example, in the U.S., Zappos offers free shipping both ways to make transactions as easy as possible for the customer and there is no limit to this: the customer can order 10 pairs of shoes, try them all on, and decide to return all 10 pairs within 365 days, no questions asked. Wow! Even if you don’t want to place an order, one can call the toll free number and be treated with a “joke of the day” (read to the end of this blog and I will share the joke I heard when I called on June 29, 2011).

But the main focus of this blog post is the customer experience and the importance of it in building your brand. Thought of by many as “old school,” I feel the telephone experience can and should set your organization apart from the rest. The success of is a classic example; and they have built a $1B company leveraging customer experience as its core differentiator.

Ask yourself: if a customer calls your office on the afternoon before a major holiday, what will they experience? Will someone even pick up the phone? How many rings will it take before someone does? Will the caller be put on hold; for how long? If someone does pick up, will they do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer’s request? Will the person picking the call act happy to be speaking with them? Or will they act disinterested, more inclined to start their holiday early? has got it right: instead of looking to minimize the overhead of telephone customer service, they embrace it and view it as a chance to give undivided attention to the customer and in the process retaining them as a customer for life.

Today, marketers are consumed with social media, advertising and other platforms which helps them in reaching out to (potential) customers; this is understandably so. But when they are lucky enough to connect with the customers, what’s the experience that they create? Do not under-invest and underestimate the importance of customer service in building your brand.  And in my next blog, I will give an example of how a poor telephone experience lost a $5M deal for a consulting company (lesson learned: good customer service doesn’t apply just to B2C companies).

So if you’ve read this far, I would like to thank you first and now, I will share the Zappos #800 joke of the day that I heard when I called their toll-free number:

“Question: What underwear do clouds wear?
Answer: Thunder wear.”



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  • Mudit Patni

    Hi Joseph,
    Good article, I have heard a similar story of customer experience in a retail chain, wherein the bag boy (the person who put the items in people’s bag after billing) used to give thought for the day in each bag. This practice was started by him and as the days passed the retail chain had 15 counters to bill only 1 counter used to have line rest all were empty.
    People used to visit the store only to take his thought for the day paper.
    Simple and different.

    • Joe King

      Absolutely Mudit. Little things go a long way. Any time I receive a great customer service experience, it stays with me for a long time. And I certainly tell anyone who will listen about it. What can be better for the brand than that?

  • Susan Kiddy

    I enjoyed reading this blog post inspired by Hseih’s book (which happens to be one of many in a pile of books awaiting my attention). The customer experience is crucial to building a brand – and reputation. It all comes down to relationship building, which transcends from our personal lives to business matters. A voice on the phone is much more engaging and, well, human. Tone can be misinterpreted via email, text, and online chat. So much can be lost in translation. And, when people have questions they want answers NOW. So, I agree. Man the phones, and train your staff to communicate the voice and attitude that you want relayed to your constituents.

    A picky over-pronator, it gives me peace of mind to know that I can return my running shoes if they are not quite right, and at the company’s expense. I also appreciate knowing that someone will be on the line who has been trained in delivering the utmost in customer experience to answer any questions I may have. Zappos has set a great example to be emulated.

    • Joe King

      Hey Susan:

      Thanks for reading and replying. The book is very good and I will definitely take the tour of Zappos HQ the next time a trade show brings me to Las Vegas. I hope your running is going well.

  • Lubna

    WoW. I loved knowing about the joke of the day and thought of the day. Thanks for sharing your experience Mudit.

    • Joe

      Good to hear from you Lubna. If you call Zappos every day, you’ll get an updated joke.

  • Sameer

    Great article Joe – thanks for sharing. How does a young business ‘learn’ this? Can this be taught in the first place? What are the validation points for a business to know its doing good / bad CS ?

    • Joe


      Thank you. I think a young business needs to learn this–there is no attractive alternative. This cannot wait and be addressed later. Very few companies can overcome that. What is great about Zappos is how this customer service mindset is incorporated into their culture.

  • Geetha

    Dear Joe,

    I love books and therefore, reading about the Zappos Family Library here was very interesting:

    “The books are always available, free of charge, to all Zappos Family employees, vendors, and guests.”

    Thanks and regards,