Zappos Takes 'Open Communication' to Fascinating New Levels

Linda Dulye's picture

ZapposLogo.pngIf you've ever ordered a pair of shoes from online retailer Zappos, you no doubt have experienced the company's superior customer service.

In a recently published book by Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) titled "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose", he shares the company's core values one of which is: "Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication". (The entire list is available here.) Big deal, right? A large company proclaiming to champion open and honest communication. What sets Zappos apart is how fully it defines "open and honest communication."

Fundamentally, we believe that openness and honesty make for the best relationships because that leads to trust and faith. We value strong relationships in all areas: with managers, direct reports, customers (internal and external), vendors, business partners and co-workers. Strong, positive relationships that are open and honest are a big part of what differentiates Zappos from most other companies. Strong relationships allow us to accomplish much more than we would be able to otherwise.

Beyond the definition of "open and honest communication", Zappos articulates what the practice should achieve:

In any relationship, it's important to be a good listener as well as a good communicator. Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it's not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.

It should come as no surprise that an e-commerce company has embraced the Web as a communication tool for customers and employees. Often Hsieh posts on his blog the same email messages that he or his staff sends to employees on his blog. Recently he announced a plan to move to a new location in Las Vegas and posted the employee email on the blog for the public to see. Pretty remarkable stuff.


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