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I am writing an article about rethinking new employee orientation, and I came across something interesting at Zappos. I think everyone knows that Zappos and CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced “shay” I am told) are frequently held up as role models when it comes to leadership, customer service, strong organizational culture, etc. In a recent blog post, Hsieh makes the argument that “your culture is your brand,” and he talks about how he creates the culture at Zappos.
It includes four weeks of training for all new hires (I’m guessing that’s more than you invest), and that includes sending every single employee through the same training program that the customer service representatives go through. Zappos made the conscious decision that they would be known, above all else, for outstanding customer service. That is primary. So if that’s true, then everyone - lawyers, accountants, etc., all included - needs to know what customer service really means. So they get trained in it, and (my favorite part) they all actually answer customer calls for two weeks.
They actually live the culture. They don’t just read a manual; they do it. Even if it’s not their job. Everyone’s behavior needs to reflect that supreme commitment to customer service, and for that to happen, you have to know - deeply - what customer service is, and what better way to know it than by doing it.
Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant are co-authors of Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. Notter is organizational effectiveness VP at Management Solutions Plus. His blog is “Get Me Jamie Notter,” where this commentary first appeared. He can be reached at email@example.com.