Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wowwing: an informal book review

I've been obsessed with Tony Hsieh's 2010 book Delivering Happiness. I've been telling all my friends about it, even my car dealership service department about it (because they don't deliver happiness). I'd never heard of Tony Hsieh, or his book until 3 weeks ago. It was given to my small-business-owning husband from his business partner so I was sure it was one of those business books that only business people read or at least buy with the intent to read. Anyway, I noticed it was about Zappos. I know Zappos, I like shoes and like free shipping, even better, so I picked it up. But I still had no idea who Tony Hsieh is (he's one of the founders of Zappos).

I found Tony's informal style of writing easy to read and at times humorous. He tells of his childhood, raised by a tiger mom who wanted a doctor not an entrepreneur who was as creative as he was passionate about making money. Actually, I hoped that there was a bit more personal information throughout the book but it's not the point of the book. Even Tony mentions that it's not a biography. (Is he dating Jen??? Curious minds want to know.) So without the gossipy personal info, what drew me into the book? Tony's passion for what he loves to do - make a business successful. He wants to share his mistakes as well as successes with business owners, regardless of the kind of business. As it turned out, Zappos' success came about through, to be brief, two major avenues: 1) amazing customer service and 2) a creative, nurturing company culture. Until reading the book, I had never thought about Company Culture. My limited employment history includes ballet companies and a significant auction house. Neither environment fostered any sense of a positive company culture. Had they, I'm sure I would have been a happier employee.

I now understand why its important for my husband's company to have company retreats where for 4 or 5 days they ski or race go-karts or play team building games between seminars and presentations by guest speakers. Now I want my husband to read this book (just not the part about how business can be like playing poker, a serious hobby of Tony's - poker is just not something I want to encourage).

I can see why Zappos has been listed as one of the best companies to work for. It also makes me want to be a Zappos customer even more (even after the Amazon 'buy-out'). I've begun to compare every other company I encounter to Zappos' standard - to WoW the customer. I want to be wowwed. If Zappos can do that, everyone else can too. (Tieks by Gavrieli certainly achieved that!!! Thank you. Come to think of it, BlueNile did too. Excellent customer service.) And now, if and when I buy online, I will only buy if shipping and returns are free. If Zappos can do it, they can too.

Thank you, Zappos, for setting the bar. You spread happiness, not frustration. I hope more companies follow suit.

There, I've said it.

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