On a recent afternoon at the Henderson, Nevada, headquarters of Zappos, America’s leading online shoe retailer, Katrina Jadkowski, a member of the company’s three-hundred-and-fifty-person Customer Loyalty Team, was on the phone with an elderly woman named Susie, from Aurora, Colorado, who wanted to exchange a pair of too-snug New Balance sneakers. “I just got back in town and I have an orthotics appointment,” Susie said, sounding a bit anxious about this newfangled shopping experience.Jadkowski, a British-born, divorced former showgirl whose colleagues have nicknamed her Hurricane, arranged to have a UPS return label printed and a replacement pair, size 5½ EE, shipped free, overnight. “That’s just beautiful—I love this company!” Susie shouted.
The Customer Loyalty Team, or C.L.T., is the nerve center of Zappos, whose thirty-five-year-old C.E.O., Tony Hsieh, has earned a zealous following by imposing an ethos of live human connection on the chilly, anonymous bazaar of the Internet. He talks about being the architect of a movement to spread happiness, or “Zappiness,” via three “C”s: clothing, customer service, and company culture.