Zappos’ Online Presence is a Touchstone for Credit Unions

Walk a mile in Zappos’ shoes to see how Twitter can create powerful member relationships.



The Internet retailer Zappos is a great example of a company with a solid online strategy for attracting Gen Y. And although Zappos is not a financial institution, credit unions can look at its customer outreach for “best of” practices.

Since its creation in 1999, Zappos has exploded in popularity (check it out next time you need shoes, you’ll save loads of money!).  Its overall customer approach is not unlike a credit union’s approach to member service (hear founder Nick Swinmurn talk about meeting customers’ needs and staying tenacious). Both Zappos and credit unions look for innovative methods to satisfy customers. Zappos’ customer-focused policy keeps shoppers happy, but it’s the company’s online presence that attracts followers and helps it stand apart.

These days, having a website or a Twitter account or a Facebook page is expected. What’s impressive about Zappos’ is not that it is online but rather how it is online; it stands apart in the way it conducts itself online, especially its Twitter account.

Rather than having a single Twitter feed for Zappos, you can follow all its employees, including the chief executive officer, Tony Hsieh. I follow him. His account is @zappos. The ability to tweet a credit union CEO, give opinions to the Board, and easily find new promotions and events establishes a friendly relationship between members and credit unions. With open communication like that, members will come for the deals and stay for the experience. See how Zappos uses Twitter.

If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you should make one (read 5 Reasons Your Company Should Have a Social Media Policy). But don’t just have an account, train employees on how to use it in the credit union’s best interest. Then, most importantly, establish dialogue with your members. It can be hard thinking of thoughtful, clever things to post on Twitter, so ask your members what they want to hear from you.

I did just that. Yesterday, I tweeted via @creditunionscom, “I'd love to know what kinds of tweets you'd want to see from your CU.”

And people replied. One response from a credit union member: “Tweets I'd like to see from my CU: events, promotions, links to blog posts, general & community info.”  

Credit unions are the Zappos of financial institutions; you look out for your members. You are the best option on the market, hands down. I truly believe that. Try implementing a Zappos Twitter strategy or two to grow stronger member relationships. And for more online strategy inspiration, check out 20 ways companies use Twitter.


I sent CEO Tony Hsieh (@zappos) a direct message, letting him know I blogged about Zappos. Within an hour, I had a response.

For the CEO of such a large, popular company to be that involved with his customers is incredible. This is the kind of relationship I envision between CU's and their members!


July 21, 2010


  • Great article - I toured their facility last week while attending the 1. What an amazing experience!! (A free tour and they give you a free book on top of it!)
    Theresa Hilinski
  • Great article Patrick. We'd all love to see a little more transparency among credit unions and community banks and it seems pretty obvious that social media is the best platform to accomplish that.
    Cameron King
  • Thanks Patrick - We asked Zappos to present at our upcoming BAI Retail Delivery conference because of what you outlined in your article. Their innovative approach to customer service is definitely applicable to the financial services industry.
    Hyrum Marston