E-commerce for shoes [seems] exceptionally difficult ... Zappos overcame all of the concerns ... [using] an almost maniacal focus on customer service.Especially for companies with no storefront, customer service is the face of the company. Shouldn't that face be as lovely as possible?
[They treat] customer service not as a "cost center," like almost all companies these days, but as an integral part of making happy, committed customers who also act as evangelists.
In order to do that, you need to have a loyal, committed customer service staff as well -- and Zappos has done some unique things there that are worth understanding. It doesn't do many of the typical call center things: no scripts, no time limits on calls and no limits on what the customer service reps can do to make customers happy.
Zappos also offers to pay each new employee $1,000 to quit, one month after they've joined .... Apparently about 10% of folks take the money and scram... [but] the long term benefits of having a more strongly committed staff cannot be overstated.
Please see also some of the past posts (   ) on TechDirt about the value of customer service.