Delivering Happiness — An evangelist of customer delight has died

Woke up to a rude morning shock of passing away of Tony Hsieh, the ex-founder of Zappos who sold his company to Amazon for a billion dollars. This is particularly personal for me because Tony and Zappos where inspirations when working in the customer experience department of Myntra

His book “Delivering happiness” is required reading for a lot of entrepreneurs specially those focused on customer experience — which is everyone by the way. Some of the nuggets I found interesting were

1. Use customer car support as a way to build new relationships with customers. This is the only time that you have 5 minutes of your users undivided attention.

2. Empower customer care champions to deliver delight instantly not just treat customers tickets

3. Find ways to randomly delight your users

4. Invest the leadership and immerse them in programs (sitting in call center, delivering to customers) so that they empathise with the users

It was hard to find anyone who is not influenced by Zappos philosophy. The leadership of Myntra also put customer experience and satisfaction as the North star metric, with revenue and cost subservient to it. Some unconventional programs were

· Inhouse customer care team with the best pay structure and training program of over a month

· Bias towards inhouse logistics to ensure fastest delivery

· “Wow Program” to randomly send gifts to users. They used to upload it on Twitter/ social media generating positive vibes

· Razor focus on NPS through multiple projects — Myntra was industry leading with a NPS over 50

· “Customer immersion program” where the leadership spent 2 days every 6 months with customers in Focus Groups, delivery and customer care

One of my favorite episodes was, when during the first End-of-Reason-sale, with the scale of traffic hitting 10 times the usual, and some of the front end systems broke , we overbooked and many thousand orders had potential to be cancelled from our side. What followed was amazing.

1. Many employees actually went down to apparel stores, brought products which were cancelled , and inwarded them into the warehouse

2. Also special orders were placed from the vendors to fulfill the cancelled orders

3. Eventually what could have been thousands of cancellations was reduced to hundreds, and even those were given personal apology notes and coupons.

The RoI of customer delight is still an open question with the value conscious Indian buyer prizing discounting over everything else, so in the short term, the benefit might not be evident, however it can make a brand go far. I think this razor focus on customer experience is a reason why Myntra is still thriving in apparel e-commerce in spite of the onslaught of horizontal marketplaces.

You see a lot of companies emulating the Zappos philosophy like American Express and the overall acceptance of NPS as a critical metric, is in no small part, due to Tony.