1: Imagine standing at a customer service counter. We have expectations. A good product. A fair price. If there’s an issue, it will be taken care of quickly.
“Simple stuff, right?” write Robert Spector and breAnne Reeves in The Nordstrom Way.
“But a funny thing happens to people when they move to the other side of the customer service counter (or the front desk or the reception area or the phone or Internet) where they are the ones who are giving service as opposed to receiving it,” the authors write. “Unfortunately, this is the place where their behaviors are determined and dominated by the rules, the process, the manual, the bureaucracy, the way it’s always been done.”
“Sorry, that’s against our policy.”
“Sorry, we have a rule against that.”
“Sorry, my manager’s off today. Can I get back to you when she gets back?”
2: Nordstrom, the leading fashion retailer and 4th generation family-owned business, sees it differently.
“From the sales floor to support, no matter where we work, our challenge is to constantly put the customer at the center of everything we do,” said Blake Nordstrom, who, before his death from cancer, served as company president along with his brothers Pete and Erik. “The ultimate filter for all our efforts should be: How is this meaningful to the customer, and will it increase sales?”
What makes Nordstrom unique? It’s workplace culture which puts the customer at the center of every decision.
Nordstrom’s winning formula centers around “creating a values‐driven, service‐obsessed corporate culture that encourages, motivates, rewards, recognizes, and compensates employees to deliver a world‐class experience to customers consistently,” Robert and breAnne write. “It’s based on having a motivated, energetic, empowered person dealing directly with the customer. Those kinds of people are what best define Nordstrom, its reputation, and its ability to survive and thrive.”
Easy to say. Hard to do.
“Although we all know that the key to success is a satisfied customer, few of us are as single‐minded as Nordstrom in creating and sustaining a customer‐obsessed culture and hiring people who fit the culture and who happily provide that exemplary service—because it’s demanded and expected of them.”
What does this concept look like in action?
Here are a Nordstrom customer’s comments about salesperson Jackie Byrd: She is more than just my “go‐to person at Nordstrom, more than just a friend. She is a much‐loved member of our family who just happens to work at Nordstrom. Through every major event in my relationship with my wife, Jackie has been there for me,” the customer writes. “She was there for me when I wanted to propose, and she helped make the entire event perfect. She was there for me when we got married. She attended our wedding and made it perfect by simply being there. When I need her, she is always there. Always.”
3: There is a consistent theme that runs through the great organizations: they take a long-term view. “The best Nordstrom salespeople take a long‐term view of their business. It’s not about making the big sale with one customer and not caring if you ever see her again. It’s about developing an enduring relationship built on trust,” write Robert and breAnne.
In Nordstrom’s case, focusing on the customer above all else is also good business. When customers have a rapport and a bond with a Nordstrom salesperson, their spending doubles.
Reflection: On a scale of 1-10, how does my organization rate on customer focus. What’s in the way?
Action: Discuss with my team or with a colleague.