Personal Emotional Connections: How Truly Knowing Your People Creates a Highly Engaged Workforce

Speaker: Jamie Naughton

How Zappos has created a culture of fun, respect and engagement. How good companies become legendary companies.

 By: Melissa Coutts


A service company that just happens to sell shoes, clothing, handbags, accessories….at our core, we believe we are a customer service company.
Our Core Values are the center to everything we do:
  1. Live & Deliver WOW
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble
What is PEC?
Personal Emotional Connection. 
Ask yourself how you are connecting with your customer outside of the product they buy.
How are you connecting with your employees outside of the work they do?
Manager-to-Employee PEC
Follow the 10-20% rule. 
Spend this amount of time outside of the office connecting with your employees.
Zappos puts aside a $50/per person monthly budget to be used just for team building.
Team Building
If you know your employees, they’ll be able to bring their best selves to work every day.
Team building is required to build a strong team and family spirit.
Office Design
There are no offices!
Conversations flow better and ideas are built up through organic conversations by eliminating closed doors.
Programs That Foster PEC
  • Wishez – Our wish program is a tool that allows employees to make wishes, either openly or anonymously. Employees also have the ability to  go in and grant wishes based off the wish itself or the connection they feel to it. Zappos also holds a budget to grant wishes on behalf of the company. This doesn’t have to cost a ton; some of the wishes we’ve seen are simply something like, “I wish I had a Frappuccino sitting on my desk!”
  • Karma Adventures – This is a volunteer program which offers charity outings for teams. We’ve brought employees together to volunteer for charities such as Three Square, which is a local food bank.
  • Benefits – We like to believe this is also a way to engage employees. We have fertility benefits which covers up to $6,000 in treatments. We also have perks such as an onsite gym and adoption benefits. We’re also moving away from happy hours towards family friendly outings, such as our Zappos Family Picnic which is open to employees and their families. 
Connecting With Customers
It can be the little things you do that can make a huge impact on customers.
  • We encourage employees to write handwritten thank-you cards to customers.
  • Employees can use various “WOW tools" to connect with a customer. An example of this is: A customer who had recently lost her mother called in for help with a return. Our Customer Loyalty Team Member discovered this and offered a UPS pickup for her, rather than make her go to the UPS store to drop off her return. After hanging up the phone, this team member approached their manager and said we should also send her flowers for her loss. Up until that point, we hadn’t done anything like this, but that employee was empowered to make that decision. This customer wrote a blog post that was read by 3 people. This blog ended up being found, and there was a story written about it that ended up getting 80,000 unique impressions. It cost the company $15 for UPS to make that pickup and $75 on flowers, but the return on investment was incredible. It all stemmed from this one phone call. There’s now a department at Zappos that is responsible for sending flowers to customers at employees requests.

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