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Do You Deliver Wow?

If you sold shoes, would you deliver pizza to a stranger?

Chances are good, you just gave me the stink eye. I hear you. "Why would I do something so completely out of my realm of business? I sell shoes, for crying out loud!"

Tony Hsieh would disagree. He and his legendary company, Zappos, are known for extraordinary customer service. The kind of above-and-beyond "WOW" experience that has their sales numbers soaring and their repeat and referral business at roughly 75% of their total sales.

While Zappos doesn't deliver pizza (yet), their customer service reps are more than willing to help you find the pizza parlor closest to you. Tony's story about the rep that provided the five closest locations to a starving caller reveals the heart of what any business is really about: meeting and exceeding customer needs.

It brings to mind the scene from the 1994 version of "A Miracle on 34th Street" where Santa starts telling parents where they can buy their toys for less. One parent calls the manager aside to let him know that Santa's willingness "to put the parent before the almighty dollar" made her a shopper for life. "I'm coming here for everything but toilet paper." she said. The manager then devises a new ad campaign: "if we don't have it, we'll find it for you!"

The phones start lighting up, customer service reps are hopping, and the store is saved from the brink of bankruptcy.

Are you still shaking your head about delivering pizza?

"But that's the movies! And Tony's got a huge customer service operation! He's made customer service the focal point of his business."

Well, duh!

Your business IS serving your customer. Whatever industry you call your own, the reality is without customers, there's no business. If you don't serve the customers - that is, to exceed their expectations and deliver "WOW!" - you'll probably not go out of business today, but it's only a matter of time.

I remember when my mom first said "anything worth doing is worth doing well." Within a week, I heard one of my teachers say "if you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" Hearing about Zappos incredible repeat business performance put this into perspective:

"If it's not worth doing well the first time, why do it at all?"

Scott Stratten says that he doesn't blog on a set schedule because he doesn't believe in "mailing in a blog post". One of my mailing lists hears from me weekly, and another hears from me only sporadically. Why? Because I can crank out a ton of quality, helpful information on a regular basis for one group, and the other - well, I'm not going to "mail it in".

People who follow me know I don't have a huge following, and that's okay, because the people I work with are leaders. They're a certain kind of person that doesn't want their life whitewashed or sugar coated. We're a growing community of people that support one another, rejoice for one another, cry for one another and sometimes we even pray for one another. That's how I roll.

It would be easy for me to charge more, stop doing stuff for free, and try to "monetize" customer service. To me, though, that's where humanity ends and greed begins. Sometimes you help because it's the right thing to do, not because you're going to make a buck doing it. Sometimes you give more than you should, but that doesn't mean you should help less in another situation to make up the difference.

Give everything you've got to everything you do. That's how you deliver wow. Tony's rep could have just hung up on the hungry pizza lady. After all, Zappos sells shoes, not pizza (yet). That rep didn't know Tony was in the room listening to the speaker phone. Yet that rep provided excellent customer service to a woman that wasn't even a customer.

And look how the story continues to spread. The video alone has thousands of views.

Reality Check

You can't deliver wow to a hundred million people when it's just you behind the curtain. You can deliver wow to your followers, to your supporters, to your family and friends. And as your following grows, you can't scale you, but you can scale your organization, and develop a customer service team that understands your mission, your vision, and the value of your customers. People who aren't just looking for a job, but are looking to make a difference.

So I'm on a mission to create more "Wow!" for my peeps. I'm not sure how to do it yet, but I'm working on it.

When you're out there making offers to your people, are you delivering products, delivering "satisfaction", or are you delivering pizzas?