Have you ever ordered a pair of shoes from Zappos? The online shoes and clothing store not only has a wide selection of products, it delivers great customer service that exceeds customer expectations. The company is known for its culture. “It’s our number one priority. Everything falls into place if you can focus on that,” says Jon Wolske, the Las Vegas company’s cultural evangelist. He inspired the attendees of the Remodelers Advantage Summit with his explanation of how the company created and maintains its company culture. The company has made Fortune magazine’s 100 best places to work five years in a row.
He defined culture as “values and behavior that characterize and inform a group and its members.” When the company decided to define its culture, it asked for input from employees, vendors, and clients, and came up with a list of ten core values that it would be willing to hire and fire on:
- Deliver “wow” through service
- Embrace and drive change
- Create fun and a little weirdness
- Be adventurous
- Pursue growth and learning
- Build open and honest relationships with communication
- Build a positive team and family spirit
- Do more with less
- Be passionate and determined
- Be humble
The company hires those that are aligned with these ten core values. Wolske says bad employees can be toxic—they spread bad culture like a cold. Every employee receives four weeks of training, including working in the call center. This helps them understand how their role in the company affects the customer experience. Call center employees do not use a script. They listen to customers so they can figure out how to create the experience that customer needs.
Company culture may seem like an indefinable process, but the results are anything but. Wolske cited a study that says business that focus on culture have a 51% lower turnover of employees, a 66% decrease in sick leave, and 125% less burnout. They also have 33% higher profitability, 43% increased productivity, and 300% more innovation. Visit culturebook.org to request a copy of Zappos’ book on culture. —Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING . Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag .