Not long ago I read the book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh. I was struck how many of the ideas in the book applied to Harbor in our delivery of direct services to our clients, to our organization as a whole, as well as our own personal happiness.
The book tells the story of the inception and rise of Zappos.com, which is the largest online shoe store. In just ten years, the company was formed and grew to $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. After debuting as the highest-ranking newcomer to Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list in 2009, Zappos was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion.
So how does a company achieve such rapid, phenomenal success? They do it by delivering happiness! Can you imagine a corporation having a vision of delivering happiness?? Crazy? Crazy like a fox!
Tony Hshieh (pronounced Shay), CEO of Zappos, studied the subject of happiness. In his book he outlines a framework for happiness. It includes four items: Perceived Control; Perceived Progress; Connectedness; and Vision/Meaning (being part of something bigger than you). This sounds a lot like what I talk about in therapy with my clients. I talk about gaining control over oneself, making progress towards the client’s life goals, being connected to other people and having a purpose greater than oneself as essential elements to happiness. However, he applied these ideas to running a corporation.
The book is filled with stories of extraordinary acts of customer service in order to bring happiness to their clients. Zappos does not put any limit on the length of time, or how many calls, their customer services reps must handle, because Tony Hshieh wants their reps to stay on the line, until the customer is happy. One example given in the book, occurred late one night. Tony Hshieh and his friends had been out partying until 2:00 in the morning. They returned to their hotel hungry for pizza and were disappointed to find out that the hotel kitchen was closed. He called Zappos customer service line, (not identifying himself), and explained his problem. The rep briefly put him on hold. When the rep returned he was given the phone numbers of three pizza stores that would deliver to his hotel. Now remember, Zappos is an online shoe store, not a pizza store! Tony Hshieh was thrilled with his rep’s response to his dilemma. It was just the kind of customer service he wanted from his reps.
A friend of mine is a Delivering Happiness ambassador. She was recently invited to Zappos inLas Vegas. One of the simpler things that my friend found impressive at Zappos was the Employee Wish List. Zappos has an employee online wish list. Any employee can post any work-related or non-work-related wish for all Zappos’ employees to see. Any employee can grant the wish, or assist in granting it. The wishes were things like tickets to a concert, a week-end trip, a new printer for their office, or a used car for a college age child.
Zappos is a company that everyone can learn from and as a living example of how delivering happiness can create profits, passion, and purpose.