Zappos is in!

UPDATE: If you will be in Las Vegas on May 28th and would like to visit Zappos please send me an email at hazell[dot]sean[at]gmail[dot]com

When I first considered trying to bring this idea to life, I began thinking of potential partners that would help to legitimize it. At the very top of that list was Zappos.com – probably the most transparent company in the world (with sales of over $ 1B).

zappos_logo1

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Zappos story. But if not, these two posts from CEO Tony Hsieh offer a good run-down of their commitment to transparency:

1)  Your Culture is Your Brand

One of the great advantages of focusing on culture is when reporters come and visit our offices. Unlike most companies, we don’t give reporters a small list of people they’re allowed to talk to. Instead, we encourage them to wander around and talk to whoever they want. It’s our way of being as transparent as possible, which is part of our culture.

2) An Open Email Explaining Layoffs

I know that many tears were shed today, both by laid-off and non-laid-off employees alike. Given our family culture, our layoffs are much tougher emotionally than they would be at many other companies.

I’ve been asked by some employees whether it’s okay to twitter about what’s going on. Our Twitter policy remains the same as it’s always been: just be real, and use your best judgement.

Not surprisingly, Tony’s accessibility and openness made it very easy to connect with the company and share my idea.

As for how Zappos will implement Take Your Customer To Work Day, they already offer tours – so the concept itself is hardly a stretch. The finer details are still being worked out, but on May 28th it looks like they will augment public tours with an opportunity to sit down and spend some time with their famous Customer Loyalty Team (CSRs) as well.

All in all a very exciting initial partner here. I hope they inspire you to open up and get involved too!

Openness Coming Soon

Why a day of person-to-person transparency?

“The challenge of companies and brands building trust with their customers has never been greater now that the economy has tanked and budgets for 2009 are in flux.” – Future Lab

“Transparency is something that we, not only as consumers, but also as human beings, value in every facet of our lives. Whether it be financial transactions, politics, traditional media or online media” – Pronet

“Trust and transparency are two necessary ingredients for American consumers to return to their role of powering the economy” – Dallas Biz Journal

Some Commentary

When I first wrote about this idea I was really encouraged by all the positive feedback. Below’s a small sample of the response – you can find a bunch more in the comment section of the original post.

I absolutely love the idea. So many companies have this insular approach to customers, that they “wouldn’t understand” or that the real grit of the daily business would just scare them away. We all work somewhere, & we all consume. This would help make the business-to-consumer relationship a lot more human-to-human. – Geoff

A clever idea about interacting with customers, particularly for b2b sellers. – Seth Godin (who delivered most of the traffic to the post).

This is fantastic. So much of what is done in the world seems to be behind the scenes, not really understood who is doing it. This would help build better teams – I figure my accountant, pizza shop, post office, etc. are all on my team. Currently they are invisible, but this would make the work they do visible. Nice. – Jacqueline