(by Buzz Knight) There is no question that culture breeds excellence and that is the level of customer service all of our organizations seek to attain. The culture that we all seek to create, maintain, or improve is a fragile yet vital cog in our business process.
One of the great examples of a company that excels in customer service is Zappos, the Las Vegas-based e-commerce company. Led by Tony Hsieh, their passionate CEO, they have been a model for how to build a culture of employees that know how to serve their customer base while making it an amazingly fun place to work. Zappos has a show-business flair that we all can learn from and integrate into our own organization.
If you walked into the office you might find a guy in a hot dog suit doing flips down the hall or employees all dressed up for “Tutu Tuesdays.” Zappos is very particular in what they look for in hiring to fit their culture. Generally these potential employees are fun, hard-working, flexible with change, and willing to promote a family-like environment.
Here are some examples of interview questions that a prospective employee might face that exhibit the Zappos unique obsession with culture fit:
— What’s one of the last times you embarrassed yourself to draw attention to yourself?– If you had to buy Tony (their CEO) shots, what kind would you buy?– How would you design a spice rack for a blind person?
— If you were an animal which one would you be?
— If you could be doing anything in the world and money didn’t matter what would it be?
— How weird are you on a scale of 1-10?
— Describe a time you had to break a rule to get a job done?
And my favorite…Would you dress up in a costume at work if given the chance?
These may be extreme versions of culture-fit interview questions but they point out the need to find that right vibe and chemistry in our work setting.
Zappos actually has two sets of job interviews: a skills interview and a culture interview. Another area our industry can learn from Zappos is in the time we spend getting to know job candidates. They spend more time and resources getting to know the job candidate on a social level. This helps them ensure that these people are motivated, engaged, and productive.
In order for Zappos to keep high standards of customer service, they regularly train employees through changes in company policy, processes, procedures etc. via meetings, email communications, training programs, and face-to-face training. This ensures quality expectations are met and exceeded to remain on track with the company’s goals and purposes.
It’s always a good idea to, on a regular basis, take a candid assessment of your company culture, the fit of the employees, and your methods for hiring and retaining them, and keeping your team on track.