Do you trust your people enough to let them talk to customers?

That thought provoking question came to mind after reading a UIE Brain Sparks SpoolCast entitled: Company Culture Meets Customer Experience with Brian Kalma of Zappos.

Brian Kalma is Director of User Experience and Web Strategy for the darling of Internet retail,  Zappos.

On top of these duties, Brian also passionately supports social media outreach, where all employees are encouraged to look for comments about their company on places like Twitter and Facebook, and then actively engage with those customers, without oversight. For many companies, that would be a nightmare. Brian says it’s an amazing by-product of their dedication to their employees and their employee’s dedication to the customers. This is the basis of the Zappos culture, which Brian has to translate into content on their web site and use to drive sales.

And drive sales he has. 75% of their sales are from repeat customers, spending more than 2.5 times more in the following months than their initial purchase.

That is really impressive.  But think on those words in the quotation: For many companies, that would be a nightmare.  If your company is one of those, you might ask yourself one of the following questions to determine why you dare not follow the Zappos example:

  1. Do we hire the wrong people?
  2. Do we not train them well enough to deliver on the corporate values we care about?
  3. Do we manage them in a way that means they may not be wholly supportive of the company?

So many companies seem to need to closely control what their employees are allowed to say.  The legal department may even rule on what outside communications are permissible.  If you need to closely control what employees say, which of the three answers above is the reason for that.  Whichever it is, it is an indictment of the management decisions that are being taken.

If control is exercised because it has always been that way, then you need to realize that the Internet has changed the way people and organizations interact.  It’s time to move into the 21st century.  If for no other reason, then do it to make more sales.

5 thoughts on “Do you trust your people enough to let them talk to customers?”

  1. They are fortunate enough to have such dedicated employees and staff but not the rest of world. Over internet, trends are different so way of business is. No doubt, good communication and dedication always urge customers to comeback and purchase some stuff again. Nice read.

  2. It is all about how motivated and related our employees are with the organization. We can only achieve this by giving employees the possibility to grow their knowledge and lifestyle through our training and good compensations.

  3. This is the Cluetrain for ya. It’s a great place to be. I think a lot of small, retail businesses do this, but face-to-face. To do it over the net and on a much larger scale is impressive and says a lot about Zappos.

  4. I think this is something that large companies worry about. They try to control their brand and without clear social media policies in place they risk placing it in the hands of individuals.

  5. Folks like Godin and others point out that everyone is your brand. The companies that try to control that communication channel between employees and customers will fail.

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