Zappos Measures What Really Matters to its Business

Pam Moore Pam Moore is Senior Vice President of Content and Strategy for UBM Connect. She oversees editorial strategy for 9 physician-oriented web sites and 5 print journals.
About Pam Moore (7 Posts)

Zappos has a transformative vision of business metrics.

At Business4Better, Zappos’s Jamie Naughton presented on the company’s famous customer service culture.We heard the normal stuff: 365-day return policies and surprise shipping upgrades. Zappos even offers new, just-trained employees cold, hard cash — up to $4,000 — to quit if they think the culture isn’t a fit for them. Better to get rid of them fast before they ruin a good thing.

What blew me away, though, was how they measure success in their call center. A company based on service, Naughton explained, can’t measure performance based on call time, time to resolution, or even sales revenue per employee. What matters, the whole point of the phone conversation, is for the employee to connect with the customer. It’s about building relationships. Relationships sell shoes. So Zappos needs to measure that.

The company created a unique metric: Personal Emotional Connection (PEC). Do staff spend time chatting with customers? Do they use a customer’s name? Ask them about where they are going to wear their new dress shoes? A wedding?! Really? Where? … You get the idea.

If what matters is love, measure love.The money follows.

It’s a sort-of-obvious but hard-to-follow example. InĀ  my own day job, I work on web content for physicians and medical device experts. I measure success by things like page views or comments or repeat customers or registrations or SEO traffic.

But what we really sell is love. We don’t just say clients’ ads or event efforts will reach a bunch of nameless, unwashed hordes. We promise real connection. That business goal is also consistent with our corporate culture that revolves around specifics like genuine collaboration and sustainable ethics and community service.

Something like page views feels a lot more like measuring flirting or pole dancing than measuring love. I got attention. Attention is cheap. Love is rich and powerful.

So what do I measure? People who talk to each other on the sites? The number of times we write about a real scenario? A pop-up, “he loves me, he loves me not” survey?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that changing what we measure is key to changing behavior and, really, the business itself. If all businesses had KPIs consistent with the empathy they lay claim to, it seems both the world and the businesses would be much richer.

 

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