At Velocity Webworks we believe very strongly in delivering awesomeness in all that we do, including our client service.  We decided to take a field trip to visit a company with a reputation for good customer service to learn more about it.  Last week Jamie, Katie, Anthony, and I took the two hour drive to Las Vegas to go visit Zappos’ headquarters.  Zappos tour their office and give visitors a first hand experience of their trademark Zappos culture.

Zappos Headquarters

Funny side note: A nice Korean man and his friend took this photo for us. The Korean man’s friend joined us for the photo.

Our tour guide took us through the call center, the live chat area, the product education team, buyers area, fashion areas, etc. Everyone’s cubicles were decorated and the general atmosphere seemed quite chaotic, noisy, and a little bit messy for my taste, but it seemed like everyone was having fun. Here are some pictures of the decorations (sorry that some of the photos came out blurry).

Decorated Cubicle at Zappos #1

Each team had a theme for their decorations. There were Zombies, Star Wars, Monkeys, and all sorts of themes.

Decorated Cubicle at Zappos #2

I feel sorry for the employees that sit on the end next to the main isle, I bet it’s hard to work and stay focused when large groups of visitors like our group come by three times a day.  I saw a lot of people wearing headphones to help them concentrate 🙂

Decorated Cubicle at Zappos #3

Even the CEO has a cubicle among the sea of cubicles:

Tony's Cubicle

They hang street signs for each row of cubicles, so once you learn the street names, you can identify where people sit. For example, “Kristy is the blonde lady at the end of Park St.”  I thought that was clever.

Every employee gets a license plate to hang above their desk with their name on it.  For the first year you’re at Zappos, you get a “temporary license plate” where it’s hand written on paper.  After your first year, you get a real Zappos license plate with your name embossed on it. In the upper right corner you get a sticker for the number of year’s you’ve been with Zappos.  It’s much like our license plates on our cars where you need to put an updated sticker in the corner ever year you renew your car registration.

There’s a strong spirit of celebrating each other’s success. Teams and individuals set goals, and when goals are achieved, they’re recognized. Another way the recognize accomplishments and “extra miles” is through their Zollars program. On the main floor they have a case with “prizes” in it, a lot like what you’ll find in an arcade (where you trade in your tickets for prizes).  You trade in your Zollars (Zappos Dollars) for prizes.  Some of the prizes were a Zappos blanket, a Zappos jacket, and a Kindle.  You earn Zollars from your colleagues, who give you a Zollar when they see you going the extra mile.

At the end of the standard tour, they let us sit on their “VIP Throne” and take a picture:

Queen Katie and her loyal subjects

After the tour finished, we asked our tour guide where their web development team was. He said they were in the next building over and asked if we wanted to see it.  Of course we did, so he took us over there. I was happy to see that area of the business because it was a lot less chaotic, noisy, and much less cluttered. It was actually quite comforting.

Zappos seems to live its ten core values which are:

  •     Deliver WOW Through Service
  •     Embrace and Drive Change
  •     Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  •     Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  •     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

It seemed to more than just words written on a wall. Each employee seemed to make it part of their everyday work.  This video sums up the core values and reflects what we saw at Zappos:

I learned that the culture of the company is a reflection, in large part, of the personality of the leaders of the company. The leaders are fun, hard working, happy people and that trickles down to everyone in the company.  I look forward to developing and living core values of our own at Velocity Webworks.