5 Ideas to Steal From Zappos’ Company Culture

Building and developing a great company culture leads to happier employees and potentially happier account holders, but a solid culture doesn’t happen overnight. In our new series, we’re taking a look at different companies who really stand out when it comes to company culture.

This time we’re talking about Zappos, a company known for its “weird” culture. Company culture is so important to Zappos that rather than performance evaluations, managers do cultural assessments on how well an employee fits the company. Here are five things community financial institutions can learn from Zappos about cultivating a great culture.


Deliver “Wow” Through Service.


As a local bank or credit union, you’re already known for superior service. In fact, 64% of Americans think community financial institutions have better personal service than the big national banks.

Zappos believes that “anything worth doing is worth doing with WOW.” The company focuses on this service aspect rather than offering big discounts or promotions.

Customer service employees don’t have a specific script they use when customers call. They’re empowered to make customers happy by any means necessary (And they don’t have to ask permission from their boss to deliver that “wow”). One employee even spent over 10 hours on the phone with a caller who had questions about an order. The result of delivering the “wow”? About 75% of Zappos’ sales are from repeat consumers.

What you can do at your institution: For you and your team, this can mean anything from helping someone open an account to an interaction with a fellow coworker. Let employees know that great service comes first and empower them to achieve that by any means necessary.


Encourage Growth and Learning Among Employees.


Every new Zappos employee spends the first few weeks of their tenure working in the call center solving customer problems plus they spend time onboarding across other departments too.

This gives employees great insight into the company’s customers. They learn their wants, needs, questions, and any issues they have with Zappos. Providing your staff with multi-department onboarding gives you a more well-rounded team and ensures that you always have someone to cover if employees need to be out of office (Zappos doesn’t have to hire extra employees during the holidays because everyone knows how to work the call center!).

What you can do at your institution: Have your new hires spend time with each team on your staff or start a program where any employee can choose to shadow a member of another team on occasion.


Focus on Your Team.


Your employees are the face and soul of your community financial institution. When’s the last time you all stopped working to strengthen your team's relationship? At Zappos, every manager must dedicate 10-20% of their department’s time to team building to help employees learn more culture and each other.

Zappos believes that “the best teams are those that not only work with each other but also interact with each other outside the office environment.” They claim that some of the best ideas come when employees are spending time together away from work.

What you can do at your institution: Volunteer somewhere in your community or have a potluck picnic in the park and spend the day playing games.


Don’t Take No for an Answer.


In one of Zappos’ core values, they state “we don't take ‘no’ or ‘that'll never work’ for an answer because if we had, then Zappos would have never started in the first place.”

A positive attitude is contagious, and by encouraging employees to try their ideas and take risks, you’re fostering a better work environment. By inspiring one employee to try their new idea, other employees may be encouraged to present and execute their ideas, which may turn out to be game changers for your financial institution.

What you can do at your institution: Put some weekly brainstorm sessions on the calendar and make sure employees know that there are no bad ideas. You can also put an anonymous employee suggestion box in your branches to encourage staff to submit their innovative ideas.


Have Fun and Don’t Be Afraid of the Weird.


Zappos encourages employees to inject their unique personalities into their work hoping it forces them to think outside the box. They say that “when you combine a little weirdness with making sure everyone is also having fun at work, it ends up being a win-win for everyone.”

One employee said that they were even asked in an interview with Zappos, “On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?” Having a personality at your institution could make your employees happier, enhance your brand, and will make consumers remember you.

What you can do at your institution: Tell your employees it’s okay to keep it weird! Let them decorate their workspaces in ways that show off their unique personalities, or have them write their own bios with fun facts from their life on your institution’s website.

Which of the above are you going to start incorporating at your financial institution? Look out for our next post where we’ll take a deep dive into another company’s awesome culture and what you can learn from it.

Tags: Culture