How Zappos Knocked My Socks Off
My mom had some recent harsh medical treatments, which have left her feet numb and sensitive to pressure. Over the last several months her choice of tolerable footwear from her closet steadily boiled down to one clunky pair of Crocs. Yet it still hurt so much to walk on those hard-soled shoes that she couldn’t get out of her apartment to shop for new footwear. She became nearly housebound.
So, I asked her to describe what style of shoes she guessed would work. (Appearance, closures, comfort features) I went on the Zappos site and ordered six likely candidates. They arrived promptly and two pair hit the target.
Since my mom doesn’t use her computer right now (her hands are also numb, making it hard to type), she called Zappos to get instructions on returning the shoes she didn’t want to keep. Being a friendly Midwesterner, one thing led to another, and before she knew it she’d had a long, warm conversation with the Zappo’s employee. She learned that the Zappos person’s father had similar neurological effects from diabetes, my mom revealed she was widowed and that my dad also died of diabetes-related issues, and the Zappos person gently inquired about my mom’s current health battles. The Zappos person ended the call with a promise to pray for my mom.
My mom called me to relay the news, and I could hear the smile on her face 600 miles away.
Two days later, she called again, saying that the “lovely” Zappos person had sent her an enormous bouquet of lilies and roses, to let her know she was thinking of her.
My sister emailed the company to thank Zappos (which is now not simply a “company”, but a group of people to my family) for taking such good care of my Mom.
Two days later, my mom, sister, and I were contacted and told we are now “Zappos VIP members,” which entitles us to free expedited shipping on all our orders.
My sister vows to buy every pair of shoes, from now on, from Zappos.
I’ve read a lot about the Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh’s vision for a company full of people who act like individuals, not policy-controlled robots. I’ve seen their Facebook fan page posts about anything from their dogs to celebrity visits to headquarters. I’ve seen their employee videos about products in which their natural, unscripted delivery, and totally average looking appearances, make me trust them.
But this bouquet of flowers delivered on the vision. It showed me Tony’s confidence in his employees and himself, to do the right thing. To be big, while acting small. Wow.
Originally published on Daily Grommet