How To Zappos Your Customer Service


customer service post

Every since Zappos made over the top customer service the cornerstone of their growth to $1 billion in revenue it has become a popular way to generate word of mouth growth. Who doesn’t like the idea of having their customers love them and want to rave about their service?

I still have saved down from one of our pitches in 2012 a statistic about word of mouth marketing which is etched into my mind “92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing”.

The problem is if you try looking for examples of how businesses have implemented their own WOW customer service strategy, you will find yourself looking… for a long time. Let me tell you exactly what we did at MyNappies in order to WOW our customers and get them talking.

At MyNappies our customer service rule was simple – no customer interaction ever ends in uncertainty. No matter the issue we would fix it on the customer’s end before doing so for ourselves, and if this could not be done right away we would walk the customer through the steps we were going to take to reach a positive solution. We would then follow them up to provide updates until the solution was finalised.

(1) Handwritten Thank You Cards For Loyal Customers

On customers third order with us we would write them a handwritten thank you card and slip it into their order.

Every card would either be signed off by Jason or myself, as the co-founders of the business. These days the last thing a customer expects is a handwritten card thanking them for being a loyal customer, it makes them feel valued. For us it worked to ‘humanise’ the MyNappies brand and become more than just another store they buy from.

(2) Empowered Customer Support

From the beginning we said customer support would always be empowered to make any decision required to ensure we left our customers ‘wowed’. An example of this is when we encountered delivery issues, such as a late or damaged delivery. Instead of waiting till we had sorted the issue out with the courier before helping the customer (normal protocol for our competitors), we would solve the issue from the customers perspective in the initial phone call.

In this case it would be to reship their order that day, and offer them the option to get a 15% refund on the order or a 15% off gift card for use on their next order (over 70% would choose the gift card). Only once we had acted on the solution for our customer would we then follow up with the courier, which could take up to a week to get sorted.

(3) Email Turnaround

We were able to stand out as a star in this area as our competitors were mom and pop operations who addressed customer support emails two to three times a week. Or they were larger businesses which put no emphasis on customer support and as a result email response time was 6-24 hours.

On average all of our customer support emails were responded to <25 minutes between 6am – 9pm. We had countless customers amazed when they had a solution to their issue within minutes of emailing us. Our responses were always personalised and written in a positive and energetic manner.

(4) First Order Card

At MyNappies we had one tree planted for every order placed. We partnered with an organisation that was using tree planting to help fight poverty, through sustainable farming in developing countries.

In a customers first order with us we included handmade cards which made customers aware that thanks to their order a tree would get planted in ____ (we would name the developing country which the project was currently undertaken in).

We took this opportunity of a new customer ordering for the first time, to ‘personalise’ our brand, and bring ourselves closer to the customer – together we were making a difference to the lives of those less fortunate.

(5) Survey Responses

Surveys are a powerful tool if you use them correctly. We would incentivise our community to respond with awesome rewards, than for those who provided thoughtful or longer answers we would send them a personalized response.

We would structure the response this way:

  • thank them for responding

  • use one of their responses as a talking point (e.g. favourite food/movie)

  • let them know what what actions we were going to take based on their response and those of the community.

We found that our community loved to hear back from us and see that we were going to act on their advice, it once again built our relationship with them and worked to ‘humanise’ the MyNappies brand.

In one of our largest surveys a question we put forward was – What is something that we could do that would really ‘WOW’ you? One mom responded and said “Maybe flowers? Roses?”.

So what did we do…

Within 24 hours she had roses delivered to her house. She was shocked that we had followed through. She became a loyal customer who always responded when we asked for feedback in the future.

Final Words

The key takeaway from this post can be summed up best by Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.

“To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means do something a little unconventional and innovative. You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver.” – Tony Hsieh


  • Simone

    That really is ‘wow’ service. I love the idea of handwritten thank you cards, but how did you find the time to do enough cards?

    • Zoe

      I had this issue Simone. I was hand writing thank you cards to new customers but found myself without the time during the week as I do my business on the side (for now!). I write my cards for the week ahead on the weekend when I have some more time – I put a movie on and write a handful. I then fill out the names during the week as needed.

      • Toby Schulz

        We did the same Zoe! We also got our family and friends to do it with us once the numbers got too high.

    • Toby Schulz

      We had a similar issue to Zoe (below) in terms of not enough time Monday-Friday. We would write them up over the weekend, and even went a step further by getting family and friends to do it with us!!

  • Ryan L

    The roses story is a good one. I have read Tony Hsieh’s book and he writes about customer service being apart of marketing costs, I would assume you took this type of approach also?

    • Toby Schulz

      It is an amazing read. Yes, we looked at it the exact same way after reading his book. If you are committed 100% then it pays off but you can’t half ass it.

  • Ed Pressley

    That is crazy quick email turnaround, you must of spent all day long at the computer?? Or did you outsource customer support?

    • Toby Schulz

      Customer support was all in house. A large majority of the queries would be around the same topics so we had canned responses in Gmail, which we could plug in. We would then personalise as needed based on their exact wording.