May 8, 2008, 12:00 AM

Zappos steps outside to promote customer loyalty

In its drive to reach $1 billion in sales this year, Zappos.com places a strong emphasis on customer service—even if it means finding what a customer wants at another retailer, says Jane Judd, senior manager of customer loyalty.

In its drive to reach $1 billion in gross merchandise sales this year, Zappos.com places a strong emphasis on customer service-even if it means finding what a customer wants at another retailer, says Jane Judd, senior manager of customer loyalty.

Zappos operates a contact center with what it calls its “customer loyalty” team of about 440 agents, which it begins expanding to 500 by the holiday shopping season.

Unlike some contact centers that measure agent performance by calls per hour, Zappos rates agents on how well they score among customers who rate them for their level of friendliness, Judd says.

One way the retailer promotes friendly customer service is to help customers find shoes or other products from other retailers if Zappos doesn’t have them available. “Our agents will go to other retail web sites to find products, and call them to make sure a product is in stock,” Judd says. “It’s a very helpful strategy during the holidays. We know that eventually, even if customers don’t buy from us this time, they’ll come back to us first the next time. It’s all about the service. Customers tell us they can’t believe we took the time to help them find their shoes.”

Zappos is No. 27 in the 2008 edition of theInternet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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