WOW! Really!

I recently heard Maura Sullivan, Senior Manager of the Customer Loyalty Team at Zappos, speak on Charlotte Talks.  The topic was, of course, customer service–something Zappos is known for.  After the broadcast, I sent an email to the HR email address on the website, asking if they would pass it along to Maura.  I was hoping to learn a bit about how their hiring process works.  (I had little hope that the message would actually be passed along, but I thought I’d try.)

Just a few hours later, I received a personal email from someone in HR saying she’d be happy to pass my message along.  And she did.  Not long after that, Maura called me, and we set a time to talk.

Maura had said in the Charlotte Talks broadcast that customer service is truly the culture Zappos lives–not just a line it talks.  The response I got from the HR folks and Maura herself was certainly a testimony to that concept.  The Zappos website says this:   “We’ve aligned the entire organization around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Internally, we call this our WOW philosophy.”  I was wowwed!

During our phone conversation, Maura told me that the Zappos team developed the Core Values of the company and then used those to develop the interview process.  Their whole recruiting and hiring program is built around these 10 Core Values:

  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

Their interview process is multi-faceted and thorough.  They are committed to hiring people who can believe in and practice the culture of WOW!  This practice has worked for them. 

As much research bears out, people can be trained in the skills they need, but temperament and attitudes run much deeper.  A company’s best bet is to hire for the temperament and attitude required for the job to be done in accordance with the company culture and philosophy.  Sure, some base level of skills may be necessary as well, but keep that in perspective.  Someone with the basic skills and the right attitude will almost always be a better choice than someone with stellar skills and a so-so attitude.

Does your hiring process focus on the right things?  Are you hiring people who can and will help your company live its values and accomplish its mission?  We help companies develop hiring processes — we’d be glad to talk with you about yours.



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