Tony Hsieh doesn’t sell shoes.
Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos sells something he says is much harder to fit into a box.
He sells happiness.
Hsieh outlines his strategy to create a billion dollar business by changing the business culture to make customers happy.
“It’s all a matter of priorities,” Hsieh says. “The first two things that get cut in companies are culture and customer service. That is something we will never cut. It’s all about what you value.”
Hseih told a group of people attending DC Week’s Unconference, at George Washington University, that success comes from focusing on customer service rather than pushing products. Hsieh was there to promote his new book, Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion and purpose.
Hseih says he puts a lot of energy into connecting with his customers directly in order to make an emotional connection. That connection has been key to his success. Zappos reports about a billion in sales each year.
“Our strategy is to connect with people on a personal level,” he says. “Brand is just a shortcut to one or more emotions.”
One of the main tools that he uses to reach his customers is the telephone. He says it allows customers an opportunity to create an emotional connection with his brand in a unique way.
“We do way more through the telephone that with Twitter,” he says.
Companies that perform well long term is due to the strong culture behind the companies he says. It is something that has driven his success.
“If you get the culture right, the rest will happen naturally on it’s own,” he says.
One of the ways he promotes a healthy work culture is by encouraging his managers to spend 10-20% of their time out of the office hanging out with employees. He says taking time to have fun increases overall production levels, makes employees happier and that transcends into customer service.
“Worst case scenario,” he says, “you break even and you have fun doing it.”