Zappos’ culture is steeped in passion, creativity, humility, positivity, relationships and, first and foremost, the customer. Most of these terms are attributes of intangible emotions, the customer being the only tangible entity that demands and binds all these emotions.
And the peculiarity of all these intangible traits is that they are un-trainable. You either have them or you don’t. No amount of training will teach you to fly by flapping your arms. You’ve got to have wings.
However we, as humans, have the egoistical assumption of being capable of everything; and these traits are an assumed second nature to us. Its only when put to the test do we realize our shortcomings in some of them. That’s exactly what happens to a new recruit during training. Besides their own self-realization, they are identified and given the option to leave the organization with a generous offer to compensate for the time they’ve invested in discovering themselves.
The remaining recruits have the potential to be highly motivated, engaged, customer focused and committed to the culture of the organization. Their training teaches them to manage backend processes in conjunction with the empowerment to WOW the customer in any way possible.
Zappos is a superlative example of a customer centric organization. They figured out very early in the game that it’s all about the relationship with the customer, and to maintain that relationship they need people that have the genetic capability to be friendly and helpful; therefore, customer centric. It is the cornerstone of their recruitment strategy and has paid them great dividends.
Soft skills are characteristic traits; all other skills are trainable.
Footnote: Less than 2% of new recruits take the offer and leave. It says a lot about the quality of recruitment at Zappos.
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