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Telephone as the differentiator of customer service

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Author: Dhivakar Aridoss

Have you ever seen a company taking its telephone experience very, very seriously?

Look at this messaging, “Customer Service Available 24/7 at (800) 927-7671. This is what you would have seen on Zappos site a few years ago.

Now they have Customer Service on the top left with the drop-down menu. The options in it are:

  1. Call the Zappos customer loyalty team: 1-800-927-7671
  2. Text the Zappos customer loyalty team: Text chat to 1-833-927-7898
  3. Connect with live help: ask your question right now with a member of the Zappos customer loyalty team. Go ahead – start a conversation now!   

Zappos has the tagline “powered by service.” An IDC study recently found that 84% of respondents identified customer experience as equally important as the product or service.

Given this response, it is essential to understand what works for a maniacal, customer-focused organization like Zappos and learn from them.

One needs to view the chalkboard on Zappos’ onsite contact center wall to understand the customer service experience that Zappos provides.

This board has the Daily Breakdown Report, which provides simple call analytics. It lists three categories of customer interactions – Phonez, Live Chatz, and Emailz

For each channel, someone has written the number of customer inquiries received for the day and the average time it took for Zappos to respond.

The volume of these customer inputs is heavily skewed towards telephone and is weighted six or sevenfold compared to email and chat.

Now, we will look at what they do well on the telephony part.

Easy to Find Contact Information

The customer service contact information is right on the top left of their webpage. The very first option provided is the telephone number for their customers to reach. You can’t miss it. It is a rarity.

It is always easy to reach a representative of the customer loyalty team, no matter what.

Unlimited Call Times

There are no metrics like Average Handling Time (AHT), and the customer calls can take as long as it needs to resolve customer queries.

Their current record for the longest customer service call is 10 hours, 51 minutes. Yes, you read it right, and they had bathroom breaks in the middle.

Friendly and Empowered Representatives

The phone reps are friendly, helpful, and genuinely engaged. They are empowered to make decisions on the phone as the policies are genuinely skewed towards the customers. The representatives take ownership of each call’s experience, and any adverse issues the customer expresses.

Customer interactions often include personal topics, such as weddings, pregnancies, graduations, birthdays, and anniversaries.

No Automated Messages

Your calls are answered by live representatives generally within a minute. Being on hold, after all, is not for human beings.

No Scripts

The customer service representatives don’t use prepared scripts. Instead, they have conversations with customers depending upon the mood of the customers. It can be no-nonsense order taking, exchanges, and returns to chats about everything from kids, pets, sports, weather, and current events.

24/7 Call Center

It is truly a 24/7 call center. Never do you have to wait for more than a minute to reach a representative.

No Upselling

Although Zappos is home to millions of items in stock and growing, you won’t find them pushing their customers to buy more than they plan.


Telephone is the differentiator of Zappos customer experience. While someone like Amazon is set up for customers who want the fewest clicks and the more streamlined experience, Zappos appeals to customers who enjoy a touch more backstory on the merchandise and have a bit more interest in the people who are selling it to them.

The difference is how Zappos builds the personal connection, primarily on the phone. Zappos is constantly experimenting with ways to get more people to call because it’s a valuable brand builder for them.


About the Author: Dhivakar Aridoss


With due credit to Rene Descartes, Dhivakar lives by the saying, “I Think Therefore I Am.” He believes in 80% thinking and 20% execution on anything creative. He executes the digital marketing strategies of ClearTouch on this 80-20 rule.

Besides, if you want to chat up on automobile, formula 1, Hollywood, Music, Food, Single Malts, and any conspiracy theories, Dhivakar would be all ears and is equally a great conversationist.