Culture and Customer Service

Published August 10th, 2019

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of the online shoe and clothing company, Zappos. The company’s reputation for amazing customer service is almost a cliché in the customer service world. Zappos stories have become customer service legends. The Zappos phone call that lasted 10 hours and 43 minutes is one such legend. There are many others, and this is just one of the reasons Zappos is recognized as one of the top customer service companies on the planet. Their secret to success? Contrary to what you might think…

Customer service is not the first priority.

WHAT?! How can that be? This is what Zappos is known for. Well, hold on! We’ll get to the reason in a moment.

Recently, write Shep Hyken was in Las Vegas for another CCW (Customer Contact Week) convention, and Tony Hsieh was one of the general session speakers. He’d seen Tony speak before, and he holds nothing back. He briefly told the Zappos story about why it has been so successful. That’s when he dropped the “bomb” on the audience—several thousand customer care professionals, all anxiously awaiting Tony’s comments. He informed them that the customer was no longer the first priority. Culture had replaced the customer as the top priority. Hsieh said, “Get the culture right, and we’ll deliver the customer experience we want our customers to have.”

Sounds simple enough, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Creating a culture that sticks—where everyone buys in—is a tough battle, but one worth fighting. The focus on culture is really a focus on people. Get the right people on the metaphorical bus, all happy to be going in the same direction, and you’re on the way to creating the culture you want.

Over sixty-two years ago, MMI's co-founders recognized that creating a certain environment based on defined values AND living them out honestly and openly would attract others who believed in their vision.  Today's thousands of MMI-ers can take pride in the hospitality they share because of the confidence MMI provides in allowing them to thrive.