During the month of June, I am looking at Apex Leaders, people and organizations who are at the top of their profession.  You can make a strong case that no organization delivers customer service as well as online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos.

Writer Joseph A. Michelli profiled this incredible organization and its founder and CEO Tony Hsieh in his wonderful book The Zappos Experience.  As I read this #1 New York Times bestseller, I realized the customer service lessons provided are applicable to all businesses and especially churches.  Click here or on the image above to purchase.

The following are 25 Tips For Churches On Delivering Better Customer Service I gleaned from The Zappos Experience:

  1. Collaboration Is A Competitive Advantage – “The spirit of a collaborative and diverse corporate culture still offers Zappos a strong competitive advantage.”
  2. Leverage Mistakes As A Tool For Learning – “The one thing that I think Zappos has done really well is to have a culture where you try new things, make mistakes, minimize the costs of those mistakes, but learn from them so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.” – Former COO and CFO Alfred Lin
  3. Treating People Right Is A Long-Term Strategy – “The Zappos story is rich with examples of its leaders thinking beyond the short-term profits of the company and targeting what they believe is right for their customers now and into the future.”
  4. Leaders Should Not Feel Self-Important – “Tony (Hsieh) and the other leaders have always treated us as equals.  We are all Zappos.  Leaders have never been too self-important to pick orders or to run across the warehouse so the a customer’s item makes it on the leadership truck.  We follow the leadership’s example of dedicated effort.” – Zappos employee Rhonda Ford
  5. Feelings Determine Behavior – Hsieh said, “Values are not what we put on paper; they’re what people do and how they feel doing it.”  Michelli adds, “From the inception of the company, Zappos leadership understood the importance of feelings in determining behavior.”
  6. Happy Employees Deliver Better Customer Service – “It is leadership understanding that fun helps to get things done and that happy employees give so much more…The fact that I can come to work and have fun is central to the quality of my life.” – employee Mary Johnson
  7. Consistent Execution Differentiates You From The World – “It is consistent execution that differentiates a Zappos from other well-meaning yet average businesses or mediocre individual service providers.”
  8. Bad Hires Cost You Significant Attendance And Money – “You must seek staff members who suit your culture…One of the key elements in Zappos success has been its leadership’s uncanny ability to bring together a team of like-minded employees who are dedicated to common goals and objectives.”  It is also noted that “Tony Hsieh believes that bad hiring has cost Zappos more than $100 million.
  9. Make Things At Your Church Easy And Reliable – “The customers valued not only the selection (of shoes) and ease of use, but also service reliability.”
  10. Spend Time Socially With Your Employees – “Managers are asked to spend at least 10 to 20 percent of their time outside the office with their employees.” – Zappos recruiting supervisor Brandis Paden
  11. Every Staff Member Should Spend Significant Time With People – “This leader, like all other new hires, was required to go through four weeks of customer service training.”
  12. Senior Staff Should Do Some “Grunt” Work – “Leaders are also expected to encounter the joys and challenges of serving customers in the call center environment.”
  13. Your Church’s Reputation Matters – “(Your) brand is a lagging indicator of culture.” – Hsieh
  14. Create WOW Experiences For Those Who Attend Your Church – “The first step in that pursuit (creating a ‘WOW’ experience) is achieved by making sure you are simply ‘getting it right’ (delivering exactly what customers want the first time you serve them) and ‘making it easy’ (reducing the overall effort required for customers to get their needs met).”
  15. Exceed Expectations For Those Attending Your Church – “Customers can be ‘wowed’ if the business exceeds their expectations and/or offers personalized care.”
  16. Listen To Those Who Attend Your Church – “The Zappos user experience (UX) team relies on a combination of active listening, user research, intuition, and trial-and-error approaches.”
  17. Your Best Ideas On How To Deliver Ministry Come From Those Who Sit In Your Seats Every Week – “The best ideas come from customers.”
  18. Help People Get What They Want And Need – “When considering what it takes to help customers make knowledgeable decisions, leaders should think about offering guidance as a long-term investment.  The more you assist your customers in getting what they want, the more those customers will turn to you as a trusted advisor for future products and services.”
  19. Offer Those Attending Your Church Something Extra – “Often the difference between okay service and great service is a matter of executing on the basics and offering a slight extra that makes a customer go ‘wow.'”
  20. Hire Staff Who Are Passionate About Your Mission And Vision – “A lot of companies will hire applicants largely based on their education level.  They’ll hire MBA’s because of the skills those individuals probably acquired during their education.  We, on the other hand, will hire primarily based on the passions of the individuals, and then we will teach them to do what we need them to do.” – Aaron Magness, senior director of Brand Marketing and Business Development
  21. Make A Personal Connection With Your People – “I am convinced that customers will say ‘wow’ in response to service in two basic circumstance: 1. When you exceed their expectations.  2. When you make a personal emotional connection with them.”
  22. Invite Feedback From Your Congregation – “In a time when many businesses seek to establish and perform at an adequate level of service expectations, Zappos seeks out a higher level of criticism.”
  23. Elevate Your Expectations – “As you set higher service standards, you must accept the challenge of elevated expectations.  The fruits of business success exist on those higher branches of excellence.”
  24. Unite Generations For Kingdom Purpose – “Business can be, and increasingly must be, about the development of personal relationships that span a customer’s lifetime.  While average managers might think a company can thrive simply by selling goods or services to customers, true leaders understand that all business is personal.”
  25. Customer Centric Churches Often Have More Money To Do More Ministry – “Companies that truly allow staff members to take care of the best interests of customers enjoy, on average, more than 20 percent greater profits than those that operate from a less customer-centric perspective.”

What is one thing you can learn from Zappos to create a better guest experience at your church?  And if you want to discuss The Zappos Experience with your key staff, click here to order several copies today.

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