How Zappos Uses Metrics for a Wow Customer Experience

by Anne Reuss

Get a Year of Free CX Resources


We're giving away free workbooks, checklists, guides and templates to help you reach your Customer Experience goals.


Watch the video and learn more here.

Guest post by Ashley Furness of Software Advice

Zappos is renowned worldwide as a standout in customer service success, partially for their unique approach to customer performance and productivity management. The e-retailer uses metrics that incentive creating a personal emotional connection over measures such as speed to resolution or call quantities.

While the company still takes a quantitative approach their goal is to foster optimal customer  experience. They understand that personal rapport is critical to this mission. Think of your customers like baby turtles: they need direction, comfort and protection.

 “Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship as opposed to a top of mind impression through advertising,” the author of The Zappos Experience, Joseph Michelli, told me. “Emotion drives people to share with others.”

Recently, my company sat down with Zappos Customer Loyalty Operations Manager Derek Carder to find out more about how they use metrics to promote creating an emotional connection. He said the company’s whole strategy is to create loyalty through ‘wow’ moments, where the agent goes above and beyond for the customer. Here’s four KPIs they use to monitor, track and improve performance.

Quantify and Reward Wow Moments

Zappos understands that customers want to be appreciated. They promote this value through a measure called the “Happiness Experience Form.” Each interaction is scored on a 100-point scale based on answers to the following questions:

  1. Did the agent try twice to make a personal emotional connection (PEC)?
  2. Did they keep the rapport going after the customer responded to their attempt?
  3. Did they address unstated needs?
  4. Did they provide a “wow experience?”

This is meant to literally insure agents have a conversation with the customer and make them feel appreciated and cared for. In return for fulfilling these promises, Zappos reps earn incentives for meeting their goals.

Measure Total Call Time, Not Time Per Call

Zappos doesn’t want agents to make calls as quick as possible. They want to stay true to their brand customer service promise (and make it as easy for the customer as possible), by giving them all the time they need (Zappos’ longest call ever was eight hours). So, instead of valuing quick time to resolution or processing high call volumes, Zappos looks at the percentage of a time an agent spends on the phone.

Agents are expected to spend at least 80% of their time in customer-facing communications.This measure – called personal service level – is a way to empower the team to utilize their time how they see best promotes customer loyalty.

Mine for Idle Chats

Zappos views chats just as they do phone conversations. The same expectations exist for creating a connection and rapport with the customer. At the same time, managers monitor “abandonment time,” or periods when an agent has a session open even though the customer already disconnected from the chat.  Carder said sometimes agents do this purposely to avoid responding.

This strategy of looking for idle chats zeroes in on the cause of unproductivity. When agents aren’t productive, customers wait longer. And the longer they wait, the more apt they are to abandon the session.

Reward Perfect Attendance and Punctuality

Nothing compromises the customer experience like talking to a cranky agent. Zappos uses a program called Panda to combat absenteeism, but also enable agents to accrue extra time off. Well rested agents are happy agents. Happy agents give stellar service, Carder explained.

Employees receive a point for every day they miss work or come in late. Staff with zero points in a given period receive a varying number of paid hours off. These hours can be accrued and stacked for an entire paid day off.

The primary take away is that Zappos created metrics that emphasize creating a relationship with the customer rather than rushing them through the call. At the same time, these KPIs still successfully improve performance and make employees feel appreciated and rewarded.

How are you creating an emotional connection with your customers?

Love it? Share it:


Connect Jeannie's Brain Directly to Your Inbox.

Get weekly insights & tips to make your day (and your customer’s experience) brighter.