Zappos Culture Book 2008

By Emmanuel Narokobi

If customer service were weights, we’d all look like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Why? well because the sheer weight of frustration that weighs down on you when you have the displeasure of experiencing wrong orders, snail pace deliveries and just generally no smiling (especially if you’re not a foreigner) will give you the work out of your life in PNG.

I think most people know about poor service in PNG or especially where its most apparent in our Banks and Hotels in Port Moresby, so I’m not going to harp on about it. But if you feel like your arms and shoulders are getting thicker then feel free to share your frustrations below.

But keeping service in mind, I was taking a stroll around the net one day and I came across an interview about online retailer Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay). Tony is considered by many to be a master at customer service and when asked how he achieved a billion dollars in sales in 2008, he attributed the company’s success to their focus on aligning the entire organisation around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible.

To get that customer service right Tony has worked on making the culture right at Zappos. “If you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a brand will just happen naturally.” Tony says. Makes sense I though and to instill it in his employees the company has developed 10 core values to achieve this. They are:

  1. Deliver WOW Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble

Now to top it all off, each year a Culture Book with staff thoughts on the company’s culture is sent out freely to anyone who requests it so that you can get a better feel of this ‘culture’ in action.

Now of course I had to test it out, would they really send me a free book?

I sent out an email at 7am:

On Thu, 30 Jul 2000 -0700am, “Emmanuel Narokobi” <> wrote:
> Hi Tony,
> Been watching YouTube videos of your speeches since I heard about your
> Amazon share swap, so was wondering if its possible to send me your culture
> book? My address is below, but I’m not in the US though.
> You guys are doing an inspiring job and as my small company is growing at
> the moment, I’m looking at ways to create a culture of my own.
> Thanks for your time.
> Regards,
> Emmanuel Narokobi
> Masalai Communications

and by 11am, they had replied:

From: <>
Date: Jul 30 2009 – 11:04am

Hi Emmanuel,

Thank you for contacting Tony! He reads every email he receives and asked me to respond on his behalf so you could receive a timely response. Tony receives over 2,000 emails each day, and I am part of a small team that assists in answering them. He would have responded directly, but he doesn’t have the hands necessary to type up 2,000 responses at the same time. We’re currently working on replacing Tony’s arms with spider legs, so look for more responses from Tony in the future!

Thank you so much for your email! I am very glad that enjoy the videos! I’d be happy to send you a copy of our culture book! You can expect one at the address below:

Emmanuel Narokobi
Masalai Communications
PO Box 170, Gordons, NCD
Papua New Guinea

I hope that you enjoy the book and I wish you the best with your company! Have a great week!

If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to contact me back directly and I’d be happy to assist you. You are also welcome to contact us at 1-800-927-7671. Your family is here 24/7 to help you with anything and everything!

Stephanie Thomas
Tony’s Team (Operation Spidey Senses)

I was definitely impressed with that quick response and then this morning when I went to check my mail, lo and behold, my Culture Book had arrived… all the way from the State of Nevada in the U.S. of A.


Now I don’t know about the culture of our big companies in PNG but for my small business I certainly have some big shoes to fill. I wonder what size Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shoes are?


12 thoughts on “Zappos Culture Book 2008

  1. Great post. Love Tony’s strategy for more customers for a business to grow. Sometimes it only takes one intense focus eg. turnaround time for responding to customers’ queries etc.
    All the best.

  2. Manu,

    that’s a very worthy post. I certainly agree that alot of companies here need to lift in terms of customer service. It gets really frustrating when you are confronted in such a situation. I for one had such an experience but it’s with the government department today. I guess they should be excused aye? hehe

  3. Hi Syl, thank you. I guess that’s one of the issues why they continue that way…because we excuse it.

    Or maybe we should send them a whole lot of Culture Books from Zappos??

    1. Thanks for the post! It makes us here at Zappos so pleased to know that we have made someone happy. We work very hard to please our customers. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time out of your day to write.

    2. It would ideal to send them the culture books but I reckon we could do better by bringing in the guys from Zappos or even Tonny himself to deliver a seminar to the govt departments and companies who are lacking in this area.

      They seriously need to improve big time.

      1. For the govt dept’s,

        Virtually, I’d recommend all. If I had to make a top three pick, I’d recommend the Heath department, followed by Education and Police.

  4. I like this one from Tony: “If you get the culture right, then most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a brand will just happen naturally.” In other words, focus on the process and get it right first. Then insist on following the process thoroughly without cutting corners. The right process will always yield the right outcomes.

    Also makes it a lot easier to go back on the trail and pin point rooms for improvement in the process if a resultant outcome does not meet expectations.

  5. Been reading through the ‘Culture Book’ and the following statements seem to pop up frequently

    – Family
    – Allowing me to Be Myself
    – Fun
    – I couldn’t work anywhere else
    – Its changed me as a person that wants to help people even outside of work
    – My personal life has changed
    – They provide free lunch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s