A lot of folks are drinking the Zappos kool-aid these days. And it’s easy to see why. Because every now and then you come across a company that’s so contrarian in its thinking and execution that it leaves most observers bewildered. Before it was Google with quirky initiatives such as 20% time, something we now know powers its innovation funnel.

Online retailer Zappos is the latest purveyor of contrarian thinking, all in the pursuit of its happiness business model. For example, staff can spend six minutes or six hours on the phone with a single customer – there’s never any pressure to hit productivity quotas. New staff are even bribed with cash to leave to gauge their commitment. And customers can return shoes up to a year after purchase, postage free, for a full refund. The list goes on.

The result? Booming sales and very happy customers. In 2009 Zappos broke though the $1bn ceiling ahead of target. They have over 7.4 million customers of which 75% are repeat purchasers! And best of all the company is so profitable and attractive that Amazon bought in last year for $1.2 billion!

Harley-Davidson needs no introduction. It’s an iconic brand loved by accountants and hells angels alike, that doesn’t rest on its laurels but has created a unique company culture that brings together employees and customers

This short podcast (15 mins) reveals how you can build a strong customer focused culture which drive profitability. It’s a discussion with Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder of TomorrowToday International, Alfred Lin the COO of Zappos and a Markus Kramer from Harley-Davidson, recorded in the lead up to the European Customer Experience World Conference earlier this year

Download the podcast here

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