At the Vator Splash event, Tony Hsieh supposedly gave an incredible speech, which you can read about here, where he explained why online retailers are there to serve the customer.
Some of Bambi's notes are here:
1) Because Zappos believes so much in its unique company culture, it is allowed to run autonomously from Amazon. The pre-requisite for being purchased by Amazon was to be able to "remain independent."
2) One brand that Zappos looks up to is Virgin
3) The philosophy about marketing is that the money that would typically go toward marketing should go toward fulfilling customer service
4) Seventy-five percent of orders come from repeat customers. In Q1 2010, revenue grew 50% quarter-over-quarter.
5) What is customer service?
a) Free shipping both ways
b) 365-day return policy
c) 1-800 number prominently visible on all pages (even though only 5% of orders come from the phone)
d) Call center operators don't have scripts
e) Call center operators are not allowed to upsell
f) Call center operators much check up to three competing Web sites for items if Zappos is out of stock
g) There are no limits on customer service calls. Longest customer service call lasted six hours
h) Customer service isn't just a department, it's the whole company
i) Surprise upgrades to overnight shipping
j) Warehouse runs 24/7
6) If companies get the company culture right, delivering great customer service happens naturally.
7) Zappos has an annual culture book made up of employee feedback about Zappos' company culture. Post a comment here if you want a culture book, and we’llget you a free culture book from Tony.
8) What ties this altogether is that Zappos is about delivering happiness
9) Go to 23:33 where Tony talks about the company’s corevalues.