Alexander Genov but will be affectionately refer to him as Alex for the purpose of this interview. Alex is an experienced Customer Research Professional who applies his Experimental Social Psychology background and his passion for research, design and innovation to solving important customer and business problems. His professional goal is to help teams create remarkable products and services which make people’s lives easier and more enjoyable. Currently, Alex is Leading Customer Research for the Zappos Family of Companies. In previous positions, he was responsible for research and usability of the products and services for companies like Turbo Tax also known as Intuit, State Farm Insurance and the Active Network, he has over 15 years of relevant experience, 5 years of academic research and over 10 years of customer research in the software industry. Alex received his Ph.D. in Experimental Social Psychology from Clark University and his areas of research include defining and measuring emotions, individual differences, usability and consumer segmentation.
Yanique mentioned that we talk about Zappos all the time in workshops and people think about Zappos as the Customer Experience guru in the Retail Market especially in the online space. They basically came in and they transformed how retail business is done online. The fact that they have a 365 day return policy, if you call them somebody is going to answer the phone even when you go on their website, unlike other websites, every single page on their website has their telephone number at the top. So, at the end of the day when somebody has an issue or when a customer has an issue whether it is to make a request or it is to query a product or service that they have already engaged you for a lot of times they want to speak with a live human being and sometimes it’s so hard navigating on these organizations websites some of them don’t have a phone number, they have this contact us page where you have to type out your entire request or issue and then wait for somebody from their company to respond to you. So, the fact that Zappos actually makes themselves available by providing a telephone number on all their pages really sets them apart.
Yanique mentioned that if businesses looked at their companies like that, “I’m just an airline” or “I’m a customer service company that just happens to be in the airline business transporting people from one location to the next for all different reasons, weddings, business, vacation.” And they realize that their focus is on service because without these customers we have no business. I think it would really change the mindset and propel, it would be like a paradigm shift in how we as customers experience business.
Alex agreed and stated that it will help to have some competition, some industries are more much more like monopolies right. And they have less choice than there is much less pressure to not be customer centric in general. One question in the outline about what business owners can think of and what’s going to make them successful – it’s very simple, it’s just focus on the customer and of course you have to have your business plan and you have to have your operations to be excellent. You cannot be focusing on the customer and giving away free product and you know you’re going to be in business for maybe 3 days, you will have very happy customers but very short-lived success. You need to have your financials work but beyond, he loves Zappos because it’s a company that’s focused on purpose before profit. And it’s a very subtle but very important difference, if you say that you’re in there for the profit then you’ll be making all those decisions that ultimately end up hurting customers. If you are saying that you’re here for that purpose then but also make sure that you are making profit. Ultimately, if you’re making customers happy they will be loyal customers and they will be telling others about your business. Alex stated that another thing that sets them apart is that they don’t do a traditional advertising. They don’t pour billions into TV ads for example, but people know about Zappos from word of mouth, from things that they do that benefit the community. And they have a very strong Social Media Presence. So that’s another lesson for entrepreneurs and for business folks. Focus on the customer, focus on the community, do good things for the community and for the customer and then you’re going to have those customers that are not only customers but they’re going to be your ambassadors they are going to spread the word about you. So, it’s going to be saving a lot of money on advertising essentially and marketing.
LinkedIn – @alexgenov
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