It appears Zappos has a unique definition of good customer service.
The online shoe and apparel retailer broke its personal record for longest customer service phone call on December 8 with a conversation that lasted 10 hours and 29 minutes, spokesperson Diane Coffey stated in an email to The Huffington Post. Shockingly, Zappos doesn't view the incident as bad news.
A member of Zappos' Customer Loyalty Team was apparently just following protocol when he or she took the record-setting phone call. For Zappos, the lengthy conversation is proof of the company's dedication to its customers.
Believe it or not, the representative wasn’t even helping the caller with a customer service problem, per se. Instead, the Zappos' employee was mostly speaking with the caller about what it's like to live in the Las Vegas area. Although the discussion may have veered off the topic of clothes and shoes, Coffey stated that the conversation did eventually lead to a sale of a pair of Ugg boots.
The team member was able to take breaks periodically throughout the call, according to Coffey.
A 2007 study showed that American call centers for companies like Zappos’ collectively receive 43 billion calls a year, according to CBS News.
In 2011, FastCustomer found that Continental Airlines is guilty of putting customers on hold for the longest amount of time with an average wait time of 13 minutes. In fact, five of the 10 companies with the longest wait times were airlines.
Fortunately, it's likely that Zappos customers face shorter hold times than customers who call companies that use automated answering systems. Stella Service found that the automated answering services put customers on hold for one minute longer than real people do.
So why would a company use an automated system? According to Emily Yellin, author of "Your Call Is (Not That) Important to Us," customer service representatives cost about $7.50 per call whereas an automated system only costs 35 cents.
If you do get lonely this holiday season and need someone to talk to, Amazon, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Ralph Lauren are among other online retailers that employ real people to answer phone calls, according to Time Business & Money.
UPDATE: After this story was published, Jeffrey Lewis, Zappos Customer Loyalty Team supervisor, reached out with the following statement: “Zappos’s first core value is deliver wow through service, and we feel that allowing our team members the ability to stay on the phone with a customer for as long as they need is a crucial means of fulfilling this value.”