Jungle Themes and the Science of Happiness at Zappos




Turn down the row that Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh sits in – only the Zappos’ lawyer has a closed-off office – and suddenly you find yourself in a jungle.

"Plants up top and all over the place," said Marlene Kanagusuku, manager of the customer loyalty team at Zappos. "It’s actually very calming."

And it’s fitting of the overall feel of the Zappos office and contact center.

"It looks chaotic, I’m not going to lie," Kanagusuku said, agreeing with the description "beautiful chaos." "But I don’t even notice it any more."

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As Jane Judd, senior manager of Zappos’ customer loyalty team, detailed to CMIQ last week, Zappos is known for some unorthodox practices. The company is also widely cited as a leading customer service company in the U.S. Kanagusuku spoke with CMIQ for the second part of the two-part interview with the company’s customer loyalty team.

Zappos employees believe that much of the intense customer loyalty see among their consumer base results from truly engaged contact center employees. This engagement is attributed to – among other things – a unique monitoring program, an open atmosphere and ongoing training.

Several years ago, Zappos instituted a quality assurance (QA) program but soon found that employees found it to be "almost a little like big brother," Kanagusuku said. So with employee input, the company rolled out a new agent review process called "Full Circle Feedback."

The main aspect of the program was allowing each agent to choose a call to self-review.

"We’ve seen that they’re much harder on themselves than we would ever be," Kanagusuku said with a laugh.

After the self-reviewed call, a manager will pick another call and go over it with the agent.

"So it’s more about coaching and feedback than it is about having this looming QA process and team that they felt is judging them," Kanagusuku said.

Zappos also builds coaching and feedback into areas beyond fielding calls day-to-day. The company has a "pipeline team" that works on incoming and ongoing training for employees. The ongoing training is where Zappos stands apart, however. The pipeline team develops courses ranging from Zappos’ History to Time Management, Managing Finances, Communications Skills and The Science of Happiness.

"It gives you another perspective on the business and also helps you personally," Kanagusuku said, mentioning that she had benefited from the Financial Management class. "I’m not too good with numbers," she added, laughing.

Check out the full interview with Kanagusuku – part two of the two-part interview – or watch the first part with Jane Judd.

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