Zappos’ Excellent Customer Service Results in a Superbly Written Response

As a copywriter, I can’t help but critique prose no matter where it may appear. It’s not something I actively try to do. It just happens. It’s like a spider-sense, except that it’s probably the worst superpower ever. I constantly analyze the word choice of books, signs, menus, pamphlets, websites… pretty much anything that strings words together in a way that forms sentences. It’s kind of a pain; however, it’s also why I probably appreciate good writing more than the average person.

The other day I was browsing Reddit and I happened upon a post entitled “My friend ordered a pair of shoes from Zappos that fell apart. This is the hilarious customer service response he received.” What followed is not only an example of fantastic customer service but also an amazing piece of copy that should make any writer proud to put it in their portfolio.

Why is it so good? Let me count the ways.

1. Grammar – Despite its almost stream-of-consciousness style, the author took time to carefully proofread his response. Either that, or he’s the best first-draft writer in this planet’s history.

2. Pacing – It reads just like the fast-paced dialogue of an Aaron Sorkin movie. You can actually hear the voice of hyperactive superhero, Captain Anomaly, as he comes to your rescue. Just glancing at an email of that length might make you think “Sheesh, I’ve got to read all this? I just want a new pair of shoes!” But because every sentence makes you want to read the next sentence (THE MOST important quality of good writing), you’re finished before you know it.

3. Attention to Detail – From monetary compensation to the exact procedure of how to return the merchandise, the email addresses every single issue that the customer might have.

4. Humor – Most importantly (to me anyway), Paul’s response is extremely funny. His exclamatory remarks, word choice, and general ridiculousness had me explaining to my coworkers why I burst out laughing. How could a story with “an experimental lab explosion involving a lamp, a giraffe, and an expired pack of Bazooka bubble gum” not put a smile on your face?

So, I’ve explained why this email is so good, but I haven’t answered the more difficult, and more important, question of “Why did it go viral?” Whenever I see something funny like this that catches fire and spreads on the Internet, it reminds me of the old Steve Martin quote: “Be so good, they can’t ignore you.” This wasn’t just a humorous chuckle-eliciting email. This was a laugh-out-loud ‘I can’t believe someone wrote this, this is so awesome’ type of email and it’s that kind of effort and creativity that will make people want to share it and help you get noticed in the social world.

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