When you think of a Holiday Helper, what comes to mind?
Elves dressed in their holiday green and red outfits, running hither and yon building wooden toys and packing up video games for Santa?
Well, here at Zappos, our Holiday Helpers may dress up as elves, but they aren’t building toys; they're sitting with the wonderful peeps in the call center and volunteering out in the community.
Two of Zappos’ 10 core values are to “Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit” and to “Do More with Less.” Both of these values lead to the reasons why the Holiday Helper program was initiated.
The program began in 2005 and was inspired by the United Parcel Service who did something similar during their holiday rush. UPS managers would ride along with drivers to deliver packages to help with the massive influx of deliveries during the season.
As a way to band together with December’s ever-growing call queue, Zappos thought a great way to do more with less, and to reduce the strain on our customer service representatives, was to open the call center to everyone. It was a successful business decision for 12 years running.
But wait a minute! Why does it sound like all employees from the CEO to the bloggers no longer help answer holiday phone calls? Has Zappos changed their core values? Have they decided it’s not worth the trouble? Not at all.
Earlier this year, Zappos segued into a new telephone/ordering system. And rather than give customers a un-WOW experience with non-customer service reps taking calls, it was decided to leave it to the pros.
So, this year, from Black Friday thru mid-January, every employee, regardless of the position or title, must dedicate a total of 10 hours in Holiday Helper mode. Two of those hours are shadowing in the call center to watch our customers get WOWed. They can talk on the phones if they desire, but the trained employees will work the computer.
The other eight hours are for volunteering within the local Las Vegas community. Organizations, where we lend a helping hand, include the Animal Foundation, The Salvation Army, Three Square Food Bank, Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth and the State of Nevada Department of Veterans Services.
As a full-time call center representative, it’s impressive to see everyone pull together to help the company and community. It can get exhausting being on the phones during the busy rush, and it’s inspiring to see others so willing to sit with us and hear the stories straight from the customers. It’s also an excellent opportunity for Pete from Social or Lisa from Legal to spread some community cheer.
Zappos hopes this program will inspire other companies to do the same. Even if there isn’t a call center, there are many ways to bring employees together and to walk in each other’s shoes, if even for 10 short hours a year.
Whether we’re writing blog articles, sorting socks at the Salvation Army or exchanging stories with a customer, here at Zappos, we’re family. And if you happen to call us during the holidays, you’ll undoubtedly get to chat with some amazing people!