The Zappos Story: Maximizing Profits More Important than Employees and Customers?

“We believe that forming personal, emotional connections with our customers is the best way to provide great service,” writes Zappos Co-founder Tony Hsieh in a recent Inc. magazine article. “We’d bet that by being good to our employees…we would be able to offer better service than our competitors. Better service would translate into lots of repeat customers, which would mean low marketing expenses, long-term profits and fast growth.”

An excerpt from his upcoming book, Hsieh’s article reveals that, despite the company’s phenomenal success, investors and board members still just wanted their ROI, which drove the sale of Zappos to Amazon.com. Even though  the investors got more than a five-fold return on their money, they thought Hsieh should have focused even more on profits and less on employee and customer happiness.

What do you think? When a company demonstrates that employee- and customer-centric values produce impressive results, should that be celebrated, encouraged and rewarded? Or is business totally about showing as large a bottom-line number as humanly possible?

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