To build customer relations, nothing beats being human

May 8, 2018 - 1:45 pm

My wife needed to return a pair of shoes to Zappos, the on-line shoe retailer known for its customer service. A return label was surprisingly not included with the order, so she emailed Zappos and asked for one.

Here’s part of the reply email she received from a member of the Zappos Customer Loyalty Team:

“My name is Tedward, the Nintendo fanatic, and I’ll be happy to help you out today…I’m sorry to hear one of the pairs of shoes didn’t work out for you. What a bummer! We can absolutely provide you with a prepaid return label to send those shoes back to us….

“…On a side note, while I was looking into this, I happened to notice you’re from the great state of Georgia. Did you know that in Gainesville, Georgia it’s illegal to eat chicken with a fork? How weird is that? Should you ever enjoy some chicken there, be sure to close your blinds to avoid any potential jail time if you decide to try and use a fork to eat it…

“…We look forward to hearing back from you so we can get you that return label. In the meantime, have an awesome rest of your day!”

Remarkable. Here’s a real person who isn’t hiding behind some form-letter response. Tedward displayed an eagerness to solve my wife’s problem and offered a bit of fun along the way.

Not only was my wife delighted with this friendly response — she passed it along to several friends, adding to the Zappos fan club.

But that’s not the end of this little episode. When the prepaid label didn’t immediately arrive, my wife emailed Zappos again and received this response:

“My name is Kristina, and I am the resident coffee expert here at Zappos. We have beautiful skies out here in Las Vegas, and we are fearfully waiting for summer!. It’s going to be scorcher! It was 104 degrees in my car yesterday, and the AC is up and running in the house. It is almost here, and I am not ready!

“We’re sorry that no label was sent to you quite yet! Whoops! Not to worry! Thanks to the caffeine that I just consumed, I was able to take care of this for you…”

There you have it. Two Zappos customer service reps turning small mistakes into huge opportunities to build relationships,  even friendships.

And how did they do it?

1. They caused us to relate to them as fellow human beings, rather than as faceless, mindless robots.

2. They admitted mistakes and offered apologies.

3. They took care of the problems.

4. They made us smile along the way.

That’s a pretty good formula for all of us when dealing with clients, customers and managers. Take problems seriously — but don’t take yourself too seriously. Be friendly. Be helpful. Be honest. Be human. Be real.

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