What we can learn from
Lisa was in a group of new recruits going through an intensive week of immersion training at a new employer, learning everything about its strategy, culture and processes. Frank, the training class leader, left the room, and long-standing employees Joe and Cheryl came in to discuss the new group’s progress and offer support. Or so Lisa thought.
Instead, Joe and Cheryl kicked off a candid conversation with the newbies about their future at the company. They asked: “Does it seem like the right fit for you? Is this genuinely where you think you want to be?” Lisa was slightly confused as to where this was heading. Then Cheryl made a very surprising offer to the entire class: “If this isn’t the place for you, we want to let you know about an early resignation offer that you can take advantage of. We’ll pay you for the time you’ve already spent training, plus a bonus of $4 000, to quit and leave the company right now.”
Lisa could not believe what she was hearing. Were they paying her to quit? Do companies really do this?
Sounds crazy? And yet, one company really does pay its people to leave. That company is Zappos.com, an online shoe and apparel retailer in the US that sells tons of shoes. And I’ll show you how the Zappos strategy makes business sense.
Worldwide, Zappos’ obsession with customer service is the stuff of legends. All its new employees go through the exact same training as the call-centre staff. First, they learn about the company history. Then, they undergo customer service training. Next, they take real calls from real customers. This training is the same for everyone at Zappos, regardless of whether you’re an accountant, lawyer, software developer or call-centre agent. During peak times, employees from other departments even chip in to help with the elevated volume of customer service calls. In the words of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh: “If we are serious about customer service, then it shouldn’t just be a department. It should be the whole company.”