Zappos: The next Nordstrom of Customer Service?

My husband and I went on a bike ride this weekend and as we were riding, my eyes were drawn to movement near his feet. At closer look, I saw strings, lots of them emanating from his Chuck Taylor’s, flapping in the breeze as he peddled. I was thinking how I should really buy him another pair of shoes, because although they could last longer, he wears them as if they are his only pair. He loves those things…

By the time we got home from our ride, I had long forgotten about my thoughts of replacing those old tattered, favorite shoes of his.

Later that evening, I got online to check my emails and this is the email I received (I am providing it to you in full, because it truly illustrates the point):

—–Original Message—–
From: Zappos.com [mailto:one_year_notify@zappos.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 4:01 AM
To: Debi Hammond
Subject: Your 1-year-old Converse All Star® Slip shoes

Dear Debi Hammond,
One year ago, you ordered the following product from Zappos.com:
Converse All Star® Slip – Black – Men’s 11.5/Medium
We wanted to let you know that right now, your size is still available from Zappos.com. You can order the same product again by visiting:
http://www.zappos.com/bin/z/ref/oneyear/p/7171208/
cl/1/fkn/sroy/fkv/1991855.html

Or, if you’d like to view our entire Converse collection, please visit:
http://www.zappos.com/bin/z/ref/oneyear/b/36/cl
/1/fkn/sroy/fkv/1991855.html

If there’s anything we can do to improve our service, please don’t hesitate to let us know!
——————————–
Zappos.com Customer Loyalty Team
1-800-927-7671 or 1-702-943-7677
cs@zappos.com
—–END MESSAGE—–

Given our busy lives, by the time we returned home, his shoes were the last thing on my mind. Yet, like a girlfriend giving me a friendly reminder, Zappos emails me with, not a hard sell advertisement, but a friendly, helpful and extremely shrewd email making it incredibly easy for me to replace those ‘Converse All Star black size 11.5’ shoes (who knew my “girlfriend” had such a great memory!). Not only that, but they then tempt me with the entire collection. Typical ‘girlfriend’ behavior that inevitably results in me buying way too much! Then to top it all off, they don’t tell me that they’ve provided me with great service, instead, they ask if they can improve on it.

Technology is changing the way we communicate. And while some consider the use of technology to be cold and impersonal, others embrace it. In fact, Zappos CEO has said that he creates “more personal connections” with customers and employees through his use of social media. So as we approach 2010, I wonder whose brand will own the “service” space in your mind. Although I still think of Nordstrom when it comes to traditional customer service, Zappos has successfully carved out its own space in my mind. In fact, they have achieved what most companies only dream of: carving out a space that seamlessly captures the essence of good service and marketing. By embracing technology, they have actually harnessed the human touch so many companies strive for yet fail to deliver.

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