How I Learned to Serve from Zappos

I believe in servant-leadership. I believe the best leaders earn their right to be followed by serving those around them and under them. I try to serve the students I teach and the team I lead at Growing Leaders. I learned this years ago, but I re-learned it recently from an unlikely place — an online shoe company called: Zappos.

A few months ago, a customer called Zappos and couldn’t find a shoe they were looking for. The representative searched their inventory and couldn’t find it either. In a traditional sales approach, this is the moment you cross sell a different product to the customer. You find a related product from your inventory and sell that one instead. But did the Zappos representative do that? No.

They searched online and then they told the potential customer where they could find the shoes they wanted. They told them to check out their competitor. Did they get the sale that day? Did they give the customer something they could buy? No. Zappos gave them something even better.

You see Zappos is no ordinary company… so they don’t think in ordinary ways. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they have grown from no sales 10 years ago to over a $1 billion in sales today. Their unconventional thinking has led to their unconventional growth rate. And their thinking on a lot of issues seems crazy to many of their competitors.

So, what were they thinking when they directed that customer to their competitor?

Zappos has learned an important principle, don’t just give your customer something to buygive them something to buy INTO!

Who is in front of you today that needs to be served? Your child? Your students? Your colleagues? Your family? Servant-leaders give others something to buy into.


How I Learned to Serve from Zappos