The Wow Is in the Details

We’ve all heard the aphorism, “The devil is in the details.” Conversely, Oprah likes to say, “Love is in the details.” But which is it? Actually both. The details matter—more than you might think.

a girl looking through a magnifying glass so that one eye is really magnified

Yesterday, I visited three different retail stores trying to find a pair of shoes to replace a pair I gave away in Africa. I was looking for a fairly casual shoe style. Nothing fancy. Just something to wear with jeans.

I was amazed at how thin the inventories were in the stores. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is a growing trend. While I understand the need for retailers to survive in the short-term, I think this is ultimately going to hurt them.

After searching in vain, I decided to go online and shop Zappos.com. I had previously bought two pairs of shoes from this internet retailer. It had been a very positive experience. However, because of my fondness for brick-and-mortar stores, I had hoped to find what I wanted locally.

However, I had had forgotten how good my experience with Zappos.com actually was. This time was even better. On a scale of 1–5, I would definitely give it five stars. Here’s why:

  1. Search was prominent and simple. In fact, when I opened the Zappos.com web page, my cursor was sitting in the search field. I merely typed in the name of the manufacturer, and the site provided a list of all the products they carried.
  2. The selection was broad and deep. In the men’s shoe category for my preferred manufacturer, they carried 90 different styles. I don’t know if they actually had this many styles in their warehouse, but I didn’t care. It looked like they did. It gave me the opportunity to really explore my options.
  3. The online experience replicated the in-store experience. I could view the shoe from eight different angles, including a close-up. Plus it provided more product information than any salesperson could possibly know.
  4. It connected me with other customers. Zappos.com provided customer ratings and reviews on the same page as the product detail page (just like Amazon). In the new world of social media, I care way more about what other customers think than professional reviewers.
  5. The check-out process was fast and easy. It wasn’t quite as easy as Amazon with it’s one-click purchasing option, but it was close. Once I entered my email address and password, the site found my account and enabled me to purchase my selection with a couple of clicks.
  6. The seller assumed the risk for my purchase. Zappos.com has a 365-day return policy. If you aren’t satisfied for any reason, you can return the shoes and get a full refund. They even pay for the shipping—both ways!
  7. They contacted me immediately after the purchase. I received an email confirmation within minutes of my purchase. That was expected. However, I Twittered about my experience, and someone in their Customer Service department replied to me within seconds. They thanked me for the purchase. That took my experience to another level.
  8. They upgraded me for free. This was the kicker. Standard shipping is free (4–5 business days). However, I had paid for three-day shipping. The customer service rep on Twitter asked me for my order number. They came back within two minutes and notified me that they had upgraded me to VIP status:

    a screenshot of the Twitter response I received from Zappos.com

This entire experience exceeded my expectations. I had already been spoiled by other online retailers like Amazon. But this took the customer experience to an entirely new level. The personal attention to detail was surprising and unexpected. As I have written about previously, this is one of the keys to generating wow experiences.

In today’s environment, you cannot ignore the details. Taken together, they create the customer experience. Over time, the customer may forget the specifics, but he will remember how the interaction made him feel. And that feeling will guide his future loyalties and buying decisions.

Question: What can you learn from Zappos.com about managing the details to create a wow customer experience for your organization’s customers or clients?
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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I'm just testing out the comments, because I have had some complaints about IntenseDebate, my comment engine. If this shows up, it is working for me.

    • http://evaulian-thebestoftheworst.blogspot.com/ Eva Ulian

      Works here in Italy too.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I'm just testing out the comments, because I have had some complaints about IntenseDebate, my comment engine. If this shows up, it is working for me.

    • http://evaulian-thebestoftheworst.blogspot.com/ Eva Ulian

      Works here in Italy too.

  • Jerry

    Now if only I could get my associates at my store to do that!

  • Jerry

    Now if only I could get my associates at my store to do that!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LindaAdams LindaAdams

    The thin inventories for shoes is worrisome. I'm a EEE in women's shoes and can't wear any heels, which eliminates about 99% of all the shoes. Under normal circumstances, I have trouble finding shoes (before you ask, buying online is unrealistic for me. Even if I get the right size, there's a fairly high liklihood the shoe still won't fit, and it's less time consuming to deal with it in a store than it is to get a pair, ship it back, get another pair, ship it back, get another pair, ship it back).____For me, just having enough shoes in my size is enough. I don't care about reviews of it because a review is pointless if the shoe doesn't fit.____And yes, the commenting feature does have problems. When I click OpenID, I get Error on page, and it doesn't work. So does clicking the Guest option. Then, after I registered to login, it logged me in but didn't post my comment.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      For some reason, IntenseDebate thought your comment was spam. I had to approve it manually for it to show up. I am not sure what set it off, but I apologize. Obviously, your comment is legitimate!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/LindaAdams LindaAdams

    The thin inventories for shoes is worrisome. I'm a EEE in women's shoes and can't wear any heels, which eliminates about 99% of all the shoes. Under normal circumstances, I have trouble finding shoes (before you ask, buying online is unrealistic for me. Even if I get the right size, there's a fairly high liklihood the shoe still won't fit, and it's less time consuming to deal with it in a store than it is to get a pair, ship it back, get another pair, ship it back, get another pair, ship it back).____For me, just having enough shoes in my size is enough. I don't care about reviews of it because a review is pointless if the shoe doesn't fit.____And yes, the commenting feature does have problems. When I click OpenID, I get Error on page, and it doesn't work. So does clicking the Guest option. Then, after I registered to login, it logged me in but didn't post my comment.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      For some reason, IntenseDebate thought your comment was spam. I had to approve it manually for it to show up. I am not sure what set it off, but I apologize. Obviously, your comment is legitimate!

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com/ Ron Edmondson

    I have noticed this also in the grocery stores. Selection is decreasing and they have more rows of the same items.

  • http://www.ronedmondson.com/ Ron Edmondson

    I have noticed this also in the grocery stores. Selection is decreasing and they have more rows of the same items.

  • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com/danieldecker.html Daniel Decker

    Brick and mortar stores need to take note. Problem is that I think it's easier to control quality issues like this online than offline. Shouldn't be the case BUT it is a reality. Offline we deal with personalities that can make or break the experience, regardless of how well the store is merchandised. Staff that can create WOW or run a customer away with their attitudes. Online it's easier to create consistency and add in the WOW like Zappo's did with Twitter, etc. giving you a personalized experience.

  • http://www.higherlevelgroup.com/danieldecker.html Daniel Decker

    Brick and mortar stores need to take note. Problem is that I think it's easier to control quality issues like this online than offline. Shouldn't be the case BUT it is a reality. Offline we deal with personalities that can make or break the experience, regardless of how well the store is merchandised. Staff that can create WOW or run a customer away with their attitudes. Online it's easier to create consistency and add in the WOW like Zappo's did with Twitter, etc. giving you a personalized experience.

  • Chris

    Following up and giving personal attention are key. Two vendors I rave about when asked about customer service are Shure and Callaway Online.
    Shure: I bought earphones in Heathrow airport about 2 years ago with Shure's 2 year warranty, have moved country twice in the meantime and lost the receipt. The earphone cable split after 18 months, so I called up Shure and explained the situation saying I did however have the credit card statement showing the transaction. The customer rep at Shure was fantastic and shipped me out a replacement pair at no charge. Next time I buy earphones, I will go back to this brand.
    Callaway: Great follow-up, they forgot to ship part of the order and it was out the door the next day. 3 months later, a shaft broke on a club I'd used 3 times and they again shipped a replacement with an upgraded shaft the next day.
    Things can go wrong in any process, but it's how you follow-up that sticks in the customer's mind.

  • Chris

    Following up and giving personal attention are key. Two vendors I rave about when asked about customer service are Shure and Callaway Online.
    Shure: I bought earphones in Heathrow airport about 2 years ago with Shure's 2 year warranty, have moved country twice in the meantime and lost the receipt. The earphone cable split after 18 months, so I called up Shure and explained the situation saying I did however have the credit card statement showing the transaction. The customer rep at Shure was fantastic and shipped me out a replacement pair at no charge. Next time I buy earphones, I will go back to this brand.
    Callaway: Great follow-up, they forgot to ship part of the order and it was out the door the next day. 3 months later, a shaft broke on a club I'd used 3 times and they again shipped a replacement with an upgraded shaft the next day.
    Things can go wrong in any process, but it's how you follow-up that sticks in the customer's mind.

  • http://www.davidteems.com/ David Teems

    Actually, the phrase is "God is in the details." Written by a German, an architect, of all people [Mies van der Rohe]. He also minted the phrase "less is more." He should have been a musician or an author. He might have been Paul McCartney for his truth and economy. And you're right. Nothing irritates me more than a job unfinished, or a distracted employee. Thanks for drawing attention to this. It's like asking for no mayonnaise on you burger, and it comes back oozing with it. Good or mediocre isn't going to cut it anymore in a stressed economy. Details. Details. Caress the details, the divine details. Thanks, Mike.

  • http://www.davidteems.com/ David Teems

    Actually, the phrase is "God is in the details." Written by a German, an architect, of all people [Mies van der Rohe]. He also minted the phrase "less is more." He should have been a musician or an author. He might have been Paul McCartney for his truth and economy. And you're right. Nothing irritates me more than a job unfinished, or a distracted employee. Thanks for drawing attention to this. It's like asking for no mayonnaise on you burger, and it comes back oozing with it. Good or mediocre isn't going to cut it anymore in a stressed economy. Details. Details. Caress the details, the divine details. Thanks, Mike.

  • Art Johnson

    Brick and Mortar stores could emulate Zappos – check other locations for your size, offer to ship it free, etc. Then they can add their benefits of dealing in person, all five senses including touch and smell, and most importantly instant gratification. Nordstrom does a pretty good job of this particularly in shoes.

    I'm a voracious reader and buy a ton of books, but I do split my business between Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores. I particularly like browsing the shelves of independent booksellers.Online and brick and mortar will continue to live together each offering advantages over the other.

  • Art Johnson

    Brick and Mortar stores could emulate Zappos – check other locations for your size, offer to ship it free, etc. Then they can add their benefits of dealing in person, all five senses including touch and smell, and most importantly instant gratification. Nordstrom does a pretty good job of this particularly in shoes.

    I'm a voracious reader and buy a ton of books, but I do split my business between Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores. I particularly like browsing the shelves of independent booksellers.Online and brick and mortar will continue to live together each offering advantages over the other.

  • Patricia Zell

    If we look at God's creation, we can see how detail-oriented God is. I think that is why I'm always asking God for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom–He simply knows more details than we do. We need to remember that when we are tempted to judge others–unlike God, we simply do not know enough details to reach valid conclusions. Let's leave the judging to God and do what Jesus tells us to do–love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

    As far as buying things is concerned, we need to remember to bless even those who give us unsatisfactory service. Let's remember whatever the product or service is, it will pass away, but that person's soul won't. I try to remember to use negative experiences to speak and show God's absolute love to all those around.

  • Patricia Zell

    If we look at God’s creation, we can see how detail-oriented God is. I think that is why I’m always asking God for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom–He simply knows more details than we do. We need to remember that when we are tempted to judge others–unlike God, we simply do not know enough details to reach valid conclusions. Let’s leave the judging to God and do what Jesus tells us to do–love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

    As far as buying things is concerned, we need to remember to bless even those who give us unsatisfactory service. Let’s remember whatever the product or service is, it will pass away, but that person’s soul won’t. I try to remember to use negative experiences to speak and show God’s absolute love to all those around.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephenbateman stephenbateman

    That's cool, I wonder how this applies to books. does a book pub like Thomas Nelson have the option to do a Zappos deal?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/stephenbateman stephenbateman

    That's cool, I wonder how this applies to books. does a book pub like Thomas Nelson have the option to do a Zappos deal?

  • http://www.zappos.com/ Stephanie T.

    Just got done reading your post, and I'm glad that I was able to help you! I had no idea my little upgrade would go to this, but I'm glad that it did.. and I hope that your shoes worked out for you! I have to say after working here, I do a lot less shopping in stores, and have ventured to the online shopping world, for just about everything, but grocery's! Anyways, I hope that you have a good one!

  • http://www.zappos.com/ Stephanie T.

    Just got done reading your post, and I'm glad that I was able to help you! I had no idea my little upgrade would go to this, but I'm glad that it did.. and I hope that your shoes worked out for you! I have to say after working here, I do a lot less shopping in stores, and have ventured to the online shopping world, for just about everything, but grocery's! Anyways, I hope that you have a good one!

  • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

    Michael,

    Your WOW experience inspired me to go check out Zappos. I've been looking for an all-leather closed-toe sandal for the last two years. I've probably visited 10 stores this spring already and found nothing to my liking.

    I went to Zappos and found at least 30 options, narrowed that down to 4 and then picked an excellent looking one from ECCO and placed my order.

    I'm sure I won't be that last happy Zappos customer you've made. The power of the WOW experience in action!

    Thanks,

    -Robert

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This is exciting for me, too. Some people assumed I got the service I did, because of my visibility on the Web. I think that your case just proves that this isn't the case. Awesome!

      • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

        My shoes arrived on the Friday before the 4th. Two days after my order!

        The shoes fit perfect—I couldn't have found a better pair.

        I was very impressed, and passed on my wow experience with my extended family.

        Thanks, Mike.

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Michael,

    Your WOW experience inspired me to go check out Zappos. I've been looking for an all-leather closed-toe sandal for the last two years. I've probably visited 10 stores this spring already and found nothing to my liking.

    I went to Zappos and found at least 30 options, narrowed that down to 4 and then picked an excellent looking one from ECCO and placed my order.

    I'm sure I won't be that last happy Zappos customer you've made. The power of the WOW experience in action!

    Thanks,

    -Robert

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      This is exciting for me, too. Some people assumed I got the service I did, because of my visibility on the Web. I think that your case just proves that this isn't the case. Awesome!

      • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

        My shoes arrived on the Friday before the 4th. Two days after my order!

        The shoes fit perfect—I couldn't have found a better pair.

        I was very impressed, and passed on my wow experience with my extended family.

        Thanks, Mike.

  • http://robert.epictales.org/ Robert Treskillard

    Well, the WOW continues. I just received this email from Zappos:

    "Although you originally ordered Standard (4 to 5 business days) shipping and handling, we have given your order special priority processing in
    our warehouse and are upgrading the shipping and delivery time frame for your order."

    To put it bluntly, my shoes have already shipped. And I highly doubt they did that because of my comment on your blog since I commented using my pen-name.

    I figured they'd come after the July 4th holiday. Now it's possible they'll make it by then. Wow.

  • http://robert.epictales.org Robert Treskillard

    Well, the WOW continues. I just received this email from Zappos:

    "Although you originally ordered Standard (4 to 5 business days) shipping and handling, we have given your order special priority processing in
    our warehouse and are upgrading the shipping and delivery time frame for your order."

    To put it bluntly, my shoes have already shipped. And I highly doubt they did that because of my comment on your blog since I commented using my pen-name.

    I figured they'd come after the July 4th holiday. Now it's possible they'll make it by then. Wow.

  • http://Www.gulfcoastediting.com Lindy

    I’ve noticed the same thing in stores and bought from Zappos. My shoes from Zappos never appeared or disappeared from my doorstep and they overnighted a new pair- arrived in 18 hours from the time I called. That was a wow experience for me.