The underlying philosophy and culture of the Nordstrom Way is disarmingly simple: Use your The Nordstrom Way is the gold standard of customer service. 1. DOWNLOAD PDF Also by Robert Spector The Nordstrom Way: The Inside Story of America's Number One Customer Service Company Lessons from the. View medical-site.info from MARKETING at New York Institute of Technology, Manhattan. THE NORDSTROM WAY Inside Americas #1 Customer .
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Praise for The Nordstrom Way Outstanding customer service and Nordstrom's are synonymous. The innovative approach has allowed them to find out what the. Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. Praise for The Nordstrom Way. "The Nordstrom Way shows the direct link between empowering your employees and . The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence - Robert Spector. McC. When The Nordstrom Way was first published in , it struck a chord with many .
We have a pet bed that is feather filled as well. Crews are constantly maintaining the cleanliness of the operation. Giant, furry stuffed animals are placed strategically along the path that cars take on their way to getting clean.
At Halloween, we have a big budget to turn each location into a Halloween theme with scarecrows and cornstalks. We try to make it a fun experience. Is your web site easy to access? Does it take forever to download? Is your typeface easy to read? Easy to navigate? The great customer-service oriented web sites such as site. There is no clearer example of online customer service than a web site that is simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate.
Your web site should be built around what your customers actually want to accomplish—not what you think might be technologically sexy. Because customers with varying levels of computer sophistication visit most web sites, companies should design their sites with neophytes in mind.
Many retailers want their site to be as familiar as other sites, just as most brick-and-mortar stores share the same basic physical format with other brick-and-mortar stores.
Web Site Design: Many web sites were initially the creation of people who understood the complexity of technology, but not of the simplicity of interaction between human beings. Those sites were festooned with cool technological doo-dads and graphics that often were not relevant to the experience.
Nontechnical customers are looking for an intuitive experience. When they log on, they need to be taken by the hand, shown how to use the site, and how to navigate their way through the site. People like to be treated like people, even if they are online. How quickly does your web site download? Do you use cute animation and flashy splash screens that are great for showing off, but not for doing business?
Even in this age of DSL and Wi-Fi, build a web site that meets the needs of the customer who is still 60 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer on the slowest dial up—because that shows sensitivity and respect for the customer by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers so that you can anticipate their every step. Virtually every department—not just marketing or information technology—in your organization should be involved in fine-tuning your web site. Your home page is where you make your initial impression.
It is the most crucial touchpoint to your customers. Consequently, you want that first page to be downloaded quickly. Online consumers have little patience to wait for a lazy-loading homepage. Even though site.
When site. Eventually, the home page became a cluttered mess. We wanted to create that soft landing online. The Science of Shopping, by Paco Underhill, founder of Envirosell, a marketing research firm that studies shopping behavior. You have the capacity to bail out at any point, and an enormous number of people do. Customers feel comfortable negotiating a site that features elements that are consistent with other sites.
Users want to be able to navigate the site as they feel, and not have to worry about retracing their steps, like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread crumbs to mark their trail back home.
Just as the door to your place of business should be easy to use, so should your web site. Throughout the experience, the help button must always be present and obvious.
A customer should be one click away from help by sending the company an e-mail, which should be answered within 24 hours, if not sooner.
There should always be a phone number that is clearly posted, in case your customer requires additional assistance. Many online retailers believe the chances of retaining those customers markedly increase when they provide those customers with personal contact with a human connection, either through a toll-free telephone number or a live chat online.
For example, Nordstrom discovered that one of the top 10 search phrases on nordstrom. There was just one problem. Today, the Kate Spade line is available on nordstrom. Answer the Telephone!.
That brings us to that staple of business tools: The telephone can also help to create an inviting place. Today, the telephone is often a tool for exchanging voice mail messages, not for conducting an actual conversation. But even in the world of e-mail and web sites, the telephone is more important than ever. How many times have you called a company and listened to a variation of the following message: Your call is important to us. Please note our menu has recently changed.
As you listen to the menu, you find yourself evaluating which of those choices fits your particular question. If none of your choices is a perfect fit, you are then forced to replay the menu and then come up with the choice that most closely fits your problem.
What is the result? A frustrated customer. Does he or she have a pleasant voice? Does the voice ref lect a smile? Does he or she sound helpful? Is he or she helpful? Can he or she supply answers to questions?
Quite often, companies will just hire a warm body to answer that phone. Those companies are sabotaging themselves. The person who answers your phone is your public voice, the voice that tells your customers that you want their business and will do whatever it takes to win their trust. Nordstrom has succeeded by thinking like the customer.
At all full-line stores, real people answer the phones during store hours; you never get a recorded message telling you that your call is important. Nordstrom proves twentyfour hours a day, seven days a week, that when you think like the customer, you will never go wrong. Whether your business is bricks-and-mortar or virtual, stationary or in motion, temporary or permanent, you need to create an inviting place where it is a pleasure to do business: Do you make customers feel that they are important?
Pretend you are the customer. Write down the following: Clearly, if everyone is finding similar problems, it is time to address those problems. Let me count the ways. There was a reason for that: Ford sold only black cars because black enamel paint was the fastest-drying paint available at that time; pigmented colors required a much longer drying period.
Even when other fast-drying colors became available, Ford stuck with black for more than a decade, so as not to slow down the production process. Henry Ford made a classic mistake—a mistake that many companies, large and small, continue to make to this day: But by that time, rivals such as General Motors were flourishing because they were offering consumers alternatives.
The choices you offer your customers represent a competitive edge that you will have over your rivals. In recent years, Nordstrom has made great strides in better managing its inventory, which has helped to hold down costs and produce better profit margins. Nordstrom and Carl F.
Starting out at the beginning of the twentieth century, Nordstrom and Wallin made their initial downloading decisions by relying on the advice of traveling salesmen.
At first, because neither man knew much about merchandising, they simply bought shoes in all the medium-size ranges because they figured that this simple approach would satisfy the large majority of customers. But soon, John W. Nordstrom, the retired co-chairman of the company.
As a young boy, John N. My generation [ John N. Unlike much of the competition, the store carries many half sizes, which help to ensure a better fit. So, if we truly believe in perfect fit, we can only do that by having an extended range of sizes and widths. Quite often, the company will reinforce this idea of choice in its advertisements. One newspaper ad shows four distinctly different looking men having a business meeting.
One man is tall; another is short; one is stocky; another is thin. The headline reads: This idea of choice also extends to other facilities in the store. Lots of choices make those arms stretch out a little bit farther. The Right Choices at the Right Time. John N. Our number-one responsibility to our salespeople is to have the products that the customers want when the customers come into the store. You can have all the pep rallies in the world, but the best motivation is stocking the right item in the right size at the right price.
Could you check on that and get back to me? I called Mr. But Middlemas did not receive the response he was expecting. In fact, his explanation was met with stony silence on the other end of the telephone line. Finally, Mr. John replied: Forty years before Mr. When Everett asked the downloader why a size 7B in a certain style was not in stock, the downloader replied that it was on order.
Everett asked for a copy of the order sheet.
He folded it up, put it in a shoebox, and placed the box on a shelf in the stockroom. In other words, no excuses. The only way you can protect yourself from losing a customer to your competition is to make sure 76 How Can I Help You? This commitment to satisfying the customer came into sharp relief in the spring of when a letter from a young customer arrived at the Nordstrom corporate headquarters in Seattle. The letter was from Ella Gunderson, who wrote: Dear Nordstrom, I am an year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes in particular jeans , but all of them ride way under my hips, and the next size up is too big and falls down.
I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear. Your clearks sugjest [sic] that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are suppose to walk around half naked. I think that you should change that. Kris Allan wrote: Your letter really got my attention. I think you are absolutely right. There should not be just one look for everyone. This look is not particularly a modest one and there should be choices for everyone.
Soon after, other newspapers around the country picked up the story or wrote their own version. Because Ella attended a Catholic school, several national Catholic publications, newsletters, and web sites ran similar stories.
First, let me tell you about my new hero. Her name is Ella Gunderson. Everybody should have lots of choices. He also said that Nordstrom had already addressed the issue of modest clothing, but that the Ella story was a good reminder. When Nordstrom launched Nordstrom. The site presents an appealing menu of features to personalize the online experience for each shopper. The web page can be customized so that customers can store their personal size information 78 How Can I Help You?
They have the option of either ordering from the web site or from the Nordstrom catalog. Nordstrom enhances the site by providing live chat with customer service representatives between 5 A. Pacific time. Customers can also either e-mail or use the number to speak to a Nordstrom representative. Once all those options are selected, customers can immediately locate what they are looking for. On the consumer web site epinions.
She wrote: I found five dresses I liked in a matter of minutes and added them to my shopping cart. Expert tailoring and alterations are available with any download. If you find the same item for a lower price, we will gladly match that price. When you call us during store hours, one of our Nordstrom employees will answer in person—right away.
Our specialists are ready to assist you. From shoes to clothes to intimate apparel, our size selection is far beyond average. Plus, we have trained experts in cosmetics, skincare, and fragrance. Available with every download, at every sales counter. Nordstrom is a great place to bring the whole family. Strollers and wheelchairs are readily available, and roomy aisles make browsing our store easy.
Emulating the Nordstrom Way. Many companies do a great job of offering a Nordstrom-style selection of choices and service. One example is FirstMerit Corporation, a bank catering to small- and medium-sized businesses in the very concentrated northeast Ohio marketplace. These customers need the same wide array of banking options that are required by businesses of much bigger size.
They are taught how to identify that need and how to speak to the benefits of that product. The first week W Seattle was opened in , a guest wanted to plug his laptop into the in-room high-speed Internet access port at the desktop. One problem: He had forgotten to bring his Ethernet connector. Not having that connector knocked downloading out of the water for a few hours, but that was okay because it happened at the waning part of their day. Most importantly, we rallied for the customer and provided him with what he needed.
Keys to Success The best customer service companies provide their clients with a wide range of options because the more options the more likely the customer will want to do business with you, rather than your competition.
Are you providing your customers with choices, or are you a one-size-fits-all business? Their ideas covered everything from the products and services they offered to the hours they were open for business. These ideas included: What kind of ideas can you come up with for your company and your customers? This exercise is divided into five parts. Select every aspect of your organization in which customer options are available, including: Commercial channels, include brick-and-mortar operations, web sites, telephones, or catalogs.
Communication channels, including telephone, e-mail, and snail mail. Continued 5. Means of payment, including credit cards, lines of credit, installment terms. As most of us know, senior managers create the atmosphere and the culture, but it is up to the people on the frontlines to do the rest.
This is particularly true at Nordstrom, where virtually every manager—including people who happen to have the last name Nordstrom—begin their career on the selling f loor, before they rise up through the ranks. Clear evidence of this culture of upward mobility is that only 2 of 36 corporate officers came from outside the company; all of the others rose from the stock room and the selling f loor.
In this part of the book, we learn how Nordstrom managers do that and how you can use these same tools to empower, mentor, recognize, and praise the people who work with you and for you. A can-do attitude, a positive personality, and a strong work ethic are still the primary ingredients for success at Nordstrom.
Some things will never change. First of all, the company wants its salespeople to be nice. The difference is that Nordstrom and other great customer service companies want to hire people who are already nice and already motivated to do a good job before they walk through the door to apply for a job.
Have you ever tried to make someone who is not inherently nice actually be nice? Previous retail experience has never been a prerequisite for getting hired at Nordstrom. Enthusiasm, a desire to work hard, and a capacity to generate your own traffic are much more important in a system that can best be described as a process of natural selection—a survival of the fittest that is purely Darwinian.
They have to prove to management—and to themselves—that they really believe in helping others and genuinely like to give customer service. Top salespeople come from all walks of life.
Some join the company from other retailers providing they did not pick up bad habits. Others come from other walks of life. But they bring with themselves a strong desire to give great customer service. Leslie Umagat, who works in the Brass Plum juniors department in the downtown Seattle store, practically grew up in the Nordstrom organization. The Seattle native first went to work for the company in as a member of the Brass Plum Fashion Board, which is comprised of high school seniors.
Applicants are judged on merit, volunteer activities, and scholastic grades and selected by Brass Plum department managers, downloaders, and salespeople. From there, Leslie worked in the Brass Plum department as a stock person during summers and special sales. Eventually, she became a part-time cashier, and then when she enrolled at the University of Washington in Seattle, she became a full-time salesperson, continuing after graduating from the University.
Bob Love. Toward the end of his career, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics. After hurting his back, Love was forced to retire.
He went through much adversity, losing his money, his wife, and much of his self-respect. To compound his troubles, Love had a severe stutter, which had kept him from being able to endorse products or to be interviewed by the media. Love could overhear the whispers: He used to be a great basketball player.
What a shame. Eventually, for the first time in his life, Love could speak without stuttering. He ultimately rose up through the ranks to become a diversity affairs manager for Nordstrom until he was hired by the Chicago Bulls to become director of community affairs. And, even more impressive is the fact that, today, Bob Love is a highly sought-after inspirational and motivational speaker.
The Nordstroms thought they had great people. And look at the result. But you have to understand that this is not for everybody. After a while, it becomes easy, because you get used to so many things. It becomes a habit. Opportunity for growth. Feeling that you are part of something meaningful. Feeling valued. It perpetuates itself. Nordstrom has consistently been selected as one of the Best Companies to Work for in America. More than 3, of its employees have been there for more than 10 years.
It is among the top 50 companies in the United States based on wages of women corporate officers, who constitute more than 40 percent of corporate officers. Nordstrom has set up a compensation system to help employees achieve personal wealth. The company has a generous k plan as well as profit sharing and an employee stockdownload plan. Like everything else at Nordstrom, the profit-sharing plan has built-in financial incentives that encourage industriousness, teamwork, customer service, and expense savings.
That also promotes loyalty because employees share ownership. Today, some longtime employees retire with profit-sharing totals in the high six figures. All employees who work more than a thousand hours per year and are still actively employed at the end of the year participate in the plan. New Employees in New Markets. As Nordstrom expands across America, the company faces a constant challenge of finding the kind of people who want to give Nordstrom-like service.
For every or positions that Nordstrom needs to fill in a new store, the company usually receives some 3, or 4, applicants; in other words, a person has a 1 in 10 chance of getting hired at Nordstrom. The people who are not hired are sent thank you notes because their effort to apply is appreciated and, after all, Nordstrom would like them to remain or become Nordstrom customers. What does that mean? We talked about what makes someone successful at Nordstrom. What do we look for? A nice person who is friendly, likes people, likes making people happy, wants to have someone leave the store saying, wow, what a great person; what great service.
With the very first interviews, they chose people who were already naturally good at customer service. That was really encouraging. All the people who work for Nordstrom have this passion about the business. You really feel that they believe in what they are saying. When you are sitting there listening to it, you get excited because they are so excited.
Nevertheless, as Blake Nordstrom says: Company policy is to reach out to their communities to recruit, employ, train, and promote ethnic and racial minorities. In , Among the company officers, 56 are women and 13 percent are people of color. Three people of color and two women also serve on the board of directors. Throughout this period, Nordstrom has consistently had a workforce that consisted of more than 70 percent women.
Minority employment figures are tracked regularly for each region in the company. The company routinely conducts sensitivity training for employees that focuses on diversity issues in the workplace. To recruit workers with disabilities, company representatives attend special job fairs and work with businesses, service agencies, and assistive technology providers who network with the disabled community.
Nordstrom is perennially selected to the Hispanic , a group of companies catering to that community. Nordstrom is considered the first upscale retailer to advertise in Ebony, a magazine that caters to African Americans, and also advertises in Essence, Hispanic Business, Latina Style, Minority Business News, and Black Enterprise magazine.
Another way Nordstrom attracts minority employees is to invest in minority projects. When Nordstrom enters a new market, the company sets out to cultivate minority-owned and women-owned vendors of office supplies, food, music, photography, and other services, including construction. Through its Supplier Diversity Program, the company also encourages women- and minority-owned businesses to supply locally produced merchandise.
How do you hire people with those elements and also get different points of view? We have to be ref lective of our communities and our customer base. We need to encourage different styles and points of view. Although all of these top salespeople arrived in the United States with far greater academic credentials than John W.
At the time, he was not considering a career in retail. He was still searching for what he wanted to do with his life. It intrigued me. I felt the warmth, the closeness among the managers and staff. The more I listened to them speak, the more I understood what this company is based on.
It changed me from wanting to have a job to having a career. I stayed in retail, specifically at Nordstrom, because of who these people were.
In Chapter 10, we will explore how he runs his business within the Nordstrom structure. The Nordies versus the Clock Punchers. Despite its strong reputation as an employer, Nordstrom has had problems with certain members of its workforce. Many veteran employees wanted to make union membership optional; the union was solidly opposed to that proposition and fought it when the contract was up for renewal.
The union engaged in a highly publicized public relations campaign in an effort to harm the company. It never called a strike because it did not have the votes of the rank and file. The union charged that Nordstrom was not paying employees for hand-delivering downloads to customers at their homes or places of business, and was not compensating employees for doing inventory and other tasks. Pay practices were changed and a new policy was laid out for employees to record all hours worked.
Recording this additional hour was a disincentive for top salespeople because vacation pay was determined by sales-per-hour results. Employees would receive an hourly wage for that time. When making deliveries going to or from work, pay would be calculated over and above the regular commute time. The Nordstrom rulebook was expanded, at least metaphorically, by a few pages. Many enterprising salespeople disagreed in principle with being paid specifically for deliveries made to their personal customers.
Our structure gives us more f lexibility with the customer, and the payoff is always going to be there. It will make your income better. I do get paid for that type of work; my commissions prove it. How do you make someone be nice to a customer? Current and former Nordstrom employees who worked at least regular hours between February 16, , and March 15, , were eligible to f ile claims for off-the-clock wage compensation.
Noncommissioned personnel received 1. Overtime wages were paid to eligible class members employed during the period from February 16, , to September 15, All of them had worked in one department in one state, where the method of calculating overtime had been done incorrectly, not only by Nordstrom, but other stores as well.
When it identifies a new market, the hotel dispatches an army of recruiters that comb the city and scout potential employees. Nordstrom does the same thing in seeking out potential new employees. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, draws its staff from three counties—Deschuttes, Crook, and Jefferson—covering about 25, square miles and a population of , In a preapplication process, St.
Charles cuts to the quick: Why are you in health care?
Why do you want to work at St. We can virtually teach anybody the technical skills. Ask Lots of Questions. At Realty Executives, all the people hired are experienced agents, who are independent contractors.
What are you looking for in a manager? Because of the labor and hiring laws, an employer has to be extremely careful as to the kind of questions he asks potential employees in interview situations.
And how they feel about waiting on customers. Nordstrom knows what it wants in an employee. Does your organization know what it wants in an employee?
Only by understanding your organization, its requirements, and its culture can your organization become the Nordstrom of your industry. Is previous experience in your industry a requirement? Every great customer service company is looking for nice, motivated, energetic, entrepreneurial people, who are the building blocks that go into creating a company where customer service is paramount. First of all, you need to ask them the right questions when you are interviewing them.
A sense of customer service. A definition of customer service. A desire to give customer service. A willingness to work hard. Dealing with difficult customers. An ability to achieve results. A competitive spirit.
Nordstrom gives its people on the sales f loor the freedom to make entrepreneurial decisions, and management backs them on those decisions. Everything else f lows from that simple premise. At most companies and organizations, the hard part for an employer and a manager is having the courage to empower employees to take ownership. The Nordstrom system is entrepreneurial. Ever since the early s, when Nordstrom was selling only shoes, employee compensation has been based on commissions on net sales.
Then you realize you need some shirts and underwear; your suit salesman can sell those items to you, even though they are in a different department. That salesman could even sell you a sweater for your wife or a skirt for your daughter.
The freedom to sell throughout the store gives go-go salespeople greater opportunity for higher sales. A customer once wanted a case of hangers, so I ordered them from our distribution center. Another customer wanted to download some of our long, plastic garment bags. Commission sales are a prime reason why Nordstrom salespeople embrace the empowerment that the company affords them. The standard commission at Nordstrom is 6. Other commission rates vary according to product category. Each salesperson has a designated draw, which is determined by dividing the hourly rate by a commission percentage.
That rate varies, depending on the competitive rates in each region. The amount of the draw varies with each department. At the end of each pay period, sales-per-hour performance is calculated by taking the gross dollar volume of items sold, subtracting returns, and dividing that figure by the number of hours worked. Knowing that their commission ref lects how hard they work instills a different kind of drive.
Nordstrom allows salespeople to grow based on what they produce. Because it constantly stresses the importance of sales, Nordstrom promotes a dynamic tension among its employees. All of them have ready access to sales figures from all departments and stores in the Nordstrom chain, so they can compare their performance with that of their colleagues—whether those colleagues work across the selling f loor or across the country. Needless to say, the bottom of the standings is not where you want to be.
Pacesetters are given a certificate of merit, an event, or an outing in their honor, business cards emblazoned with the Pacesetter designation, and a 33 percent merchandise discount credit card 13 percent more than the regular employee discount for one year. Employees who fail to regularly exceed their draw are targeted for special coaching by their department manager. A more detailed explanation of Pacesetter designation as well as other sales honors will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 9.
Empower Employees to Make Good Decisions. We keep pushing the power down to the sales f loor. I think with a little crash course, I could be a good shoe downloader today.
If that confidence in the individual is repeated over and over and over again, it creates power there.
You imitate what you see. A new salesperson admitted that she would have difficulty functioning in such a freewheeling atmosphere. His 2, active customers include many international business people, government officials—particularly in the diplomatic community—as well as U. In this case it was a good business decision because of the loyalty it bred in a valuable customer.
Spector was there to download a pound of Arabian Mocha Java beans. He brought in his empty one-pound bag because Starbucks takes 10 cents off the price when a customer brings in a used bag for a refill.
Ten cents off the price.
Empowering the people on the sales f loor with the freedom to accept returned merchandise even when the damage was done by the customer is the most noticeable illustration of the Nordstrom culture because it is the one that most obviously affects the public. There are some exceptions, due to public health laws, in certain departments, such as cosmetics.
In , an item in the Seattle Times told the story of a couple of Seattle women who were packing the belongings of one of the women who was moving. They discovered two pairs of long-forgotten dress shoes that were never worn, still in their original boxes with Nordstrom price tags and a sales slip—from Sure it does, but central to the Nordstrom philosophy is a desire not to punish the many for the dishonesty of a few.
Which is not to say that returns are not often frustrating for Nordstrom salespeople. Some enterprising Nordstrom salespeople will even send a thank-you note to a customer who has returned a download. That kind of resourceful thinking was exactly what Everett, Elmer, and Lloyd Nordstrom had in mind when they established this generous warranty back when Nordstrom was a two-store operation. The brothers dreaded having to deal with obviously outrageous or unreasonable returns, so, they reckoned, if they could pass off the responsibilities for the adjustments and complaints, the business would be more personally enjoyable.
Plus, in a world where most retailers made returns an ordeal, Nordstrom made the experience as painless as possible, which generated priceless word-of-mouth advertising. It still does. Perhaps the most famous Nordstrom return story—which the national press frequently cites—is the tale of the salesperson who gladly took back a set of automobile tires and gave the customer a refund. Nordstrom has never sold tires, but the story is true. In , Nordstrom acquired three stores in Alaska, from the Northern Commercial Company, which was a full-line department store that sold many products, including tires.
After Nordstrom bought the stores, the company converted them to Nordstrom, eliminated lots of departments, including the tire department. This has become the quintessential Nordstrom return story, and Robert Spector hears variations of it wherever he travels. Inverted Pyramid. This is both a literal and symbolic way of how the company does its business. The customers are obviously on top because they are the most important people in the equation. But the next most important are the salespeople because they are the ones who are closest to the customers.
And it is the job of the rest of the people in the organization to help those people on the sales f loor—the front lines—because they are the engine that powers the machine. The inverted pyramid was born in the early s, when Nordstrom made its initial public offering of stock. A stock analyst asked the company for its organizational chart. To his surprise, none existed. What sets Nordstrom apart is that, from department manager to chairman, all tiers of the inverted pyramid work to support the sales staff, not the other way around.
For example, every year, the company f lies in to Seattle all the salespeople who have recorded a million dollars or more in sales. What we need to do to improve the business. A lot of things we talk about get implemented. We give that advice freely. Our markets are different. By bringing in all these people from different markets, you get a good idea of your total business. Nader Shafii, a million-dollar salesman in the South Coast Plaza store in Orange County, California, recollected in particular a meeting where then-co-chairman Jim Nordstrom who passed away in addressed downloaders and managers and some Pacesetters.
If the salespeople are not happy with the product, the downloaders and managers should know. You should be able to react to that. That was the turning point for me. Individual frontline Nordstrom salespeople essentially run their own business within the larger corporate structure. The Nordstrom system enables and encourages each salesperson to use his or her own personality and approach and skills to succeed. Therefore, individuals can put their own stamp on how they do business.
In a Nordstrom employee newspaper, salespeople were asked the question: Before she left, Flores noticed one credit card payment had accidentally gone unprocessed.
Because my manager believes in me, I believe in myself and feel confident to take on more responsibility instead of doing the same job and the same tasks every day. Somebody will process the bill tomorrow. You get your bill from Nordstrom and you notice that there is a late charge. How did Nordstrom screw this up? At Nordstrom, small gestures count as much as grand gestures.
Back in the mid-twentieth century, when making downloading decisions at the New York wholesale shoe markets, Everett Nordstrom encouraged young downloaders to develop their own ideas and make their own decisions. You start at the bottom and do it the Nordstrom way, and those standards are nonnegotiable.
Current company president Blake Nordstrom—like his brothers, Pete and Erik—first began working in the store at the age of 10, sweeping f loors in the downtown shoe stockroom. At 13, he stocked shoes; at 15, he began selling shoes and from then on, worked while attending the University of Washington, and after graduation as a downloader, merchandiser, department manager and store manager in company stores around the country.
Some of my cousins eventually decided to do other things. For me, I stuck with it because I liked it. The moment of truth is what happens between salespeople and customers. So, every decision we make—based on every experience we have had—must go back to supporting the relationship between the salespeople and the customers.
All up and down the organization, people appreciate the importance of this function and what it means for everything else in the organization. Managers are encouraged to have a feeling of ownership about their department. Rather than sit behind a desk, Nordstrom managers, like the proprietors of small boutiques, are expected to spend some of their time on the selling f loor, interacting with the customers and the sales staff.
They are paid a salary plus commission on any sales they make, and are eligible for a bonus tied to percentage increases in sales over the previous year. You have to have a lot of balls in the air. The only difference between stores is the people they have. You absorb it by watching and seeing the focus and priorities, and it snowballs. downloaders get their feedback directly from the salespeople and the customers because they are encouraged to spend several hours a week on the sales f loor.
The best downloaders in our company are good listeners. If a customer wants to know when a particular shoe will be in stock, a salesperson can turn to her downloader or manager and get the answer immediately. Implementation Lessons from Other Companies. It goes back to empowering your people to take ownership of the customer situation. For example, if you have to waive a charge on the spot, you do it.
If you have to make an apology for the institution, you do it. Director Larry Jones sent out the word to local officials: Those who were there remember it as a surreal scene of debris and destruction, accompanied by the constant humming of generators, which supplied the power to illuminate the building. In the middle of all of that, a sleet storm swept through the scene. Through it all, courageous men and women continued to work in the bitter cold, 12 and 14 hours at a stretch, pulling out dead bodies and parts of dead bodies.
When they found they needed metal kneepads to protect them from the shrapnel, Feed the Children located the kneepads, and arranged with American Airlines to f ly them to Oklahoma City. We want to give you a rewash. Would you mind going through again?
And it could be something as dramatic as saving a choking child by performing the Heimlich Maneuver. Great customer service companies give their people the power to make the situation right—right away.
When they got out of their car, manager Monte Montgomery came up to greet them, saw immediately that the woman was obviously upset. She told him that while sitting in her car as it went through the automated wash, the high pressure rinse was too strong, water squirted through her window, and she had gotten her hair wet.
To make matters worse, she had just come from the beauty parlor where she had just gotten a perm for the big weekend. I apologized and asked how I could resolve this. No, she said, she preferred to return to the beauty parlor. The woman and her husband left to have lunch at a fast-food restaurant next door. Montgomery found them there, apologized for what had happened, and refunded their money. We count on your good judgment. We believe that everything is optional—how they behave, the decisions they make, the recommendations they make.
We constantly reinforce good judgment. What happens then? When they use poor judgment, we tell them so, and ask them how they would do something differently the next time. If the associate is unsure as to what to do next, Breining makes sure that a representative of senior management is available for a reality check. A senior manager will make a suggestion about taking care of the client, and will ask the employee what he thinks should be done.
Then I back that up with action. People are treated like responsible adults and, surprisingly enough, they respond by acting like responsible adults. James Swift and Lucky Taylor had met in Paris at a chocolate factory, fell in love, and quickly decided to move to Seattle and get married.
While staying at the W Hotel, Ms. Taylor stopped by the desk of cast member Dan Petzoldt to tell him that she was getting married. Swift had decided to elope and get it done during this exciting time in Seattle.
I need a photographer, f lowers, and an appointment to get my hair done. But she was very calm about the whole thing. She knew it was unique and she was enjoying it, too. Taylor if she had secured a minister, and indeed she had. Taylor told me that she had heard of a web site where you can go online and become an ordained minister over a period of time.
I laughed. I thought it was a joke. He logged on to the web site, filled out the application, and the following day, he received his authorization. To add an additional challenge for Petzoldt, because the couple had met in Paris, when they wrote their own vows, a portion was in French. So Petzoldt had to be tutored in French pronunciation. Nevertheless, right on schedule, he married the couple, far away from the protesters and tear gas.
He did all this with the backing of hotel manager Tom Limberg, who cheered on his empowered employee. One time, a reporter asked an employee at the W New York to locate a burial plot for his dog, which he claimed had just died.
W found a pet cemetery on Long Island. On another occasion, a guest asked for enough chocolate to melt and fill a bathtub. W charged the guest for the cost of the chocolate but not for the expense associated with securing the chocolate, melting it, and getting it into the tub.
In early , Continental Airlines made a conscious decision to empower its employees. When Bethune was hired in late to turn around the carrier, the only way he could bring in the best people to help a failing company was to empower them. This really motivated him because he had never worked in an environment where he could call the shots. He would come to work here believing we were going to get the place fixed, but he also wanted to come to work in an environment where he had autonomy.
We had to change a lot of middle management to get them to do it that way from then on. Good employees want to be empowered. Nordstrom, former co-chairman A s we discussed at the beginning of this book, when it comes to taking care of the customer, Nordstrom has only one rule for its employees: For some people, this corporate philosophy is thrilling!
In the early s, when Nordstrom was hiring for its new store in the Washington, DC, suburb of Pentagon City, Virginia, the company received many job applications from individuals who had worked in the military and federal bureaucracies. But one rule? He feels more comfortable leaving his brain at home.
Nordstrom, the beloved co-chairman, who passed away in , hated rules because they got in the way of customer service and the Nordstrom philosophy of empowering employees. Jim felt that the more rules an organization has, the farther and farther it moves away from its customers. When that happens, the rules become the most important consideration to employees; not the customer.
We feel that the majority of the people we hire want to do a good job and want to be successful. Because a weak employee will make the others around him weak, and drag them down. You have to sit down with them, one on one, and communicate.
Carmony recalled the time when a customer in her department misplaced a shopping bag containing three bars of soap that had been downloadd in the lingerie department.
Why is that? The simple answer is that most companies, organizations, governments, and so on are set up to make life easier for the organization—not for the customer. We only want someone to take care of us. Does your organization have a lengthy rulebook or employee manual or list of processes?
If so, does it help advance your organization to promote more attentive customer service? Probably not.
There are actions you can take to change that situation. Back then, Bethune was faced with a dispirited, mistrusting organization that had gone through a series of failed management regimes. The Continental employee manual was a compilation of maddeningly specific rules and regulations that ranged from the shade of pencil that had to be used to mark boarding passes to the type of meals that could be served to delayed passengers.
To make matters worse, the manual so specifically described job responsibilities that employees were unable to deviate from them for fear of punishment. The gate agent was forbidden from clearing up problems. The previous management had preferred that agents just stand there and feel the wrath of frustrated passengers. To dramatically make the point that things were going to be different from now on, Bethune needed to come up with a sen Dump the Rules sational symbol of changing times.
One day, he assembled a number of employees, gave them copies of the manual and led them on a parade out to the parking lot. There, the employees summarily set the manuals on fire, a task they thoroughly enjoyed. From that moment on, Continental employees were told that when they had to deal with a situation that was not addressed in their training, they were to follow one simple rule: No, just a complicated one.
Bethune wanted employees who would neither blindly do everything for the customer without worry about expense, nor merely follow procedures that would alienate the customers.
He wanted employees to consider both the interests of the customer and the interests of the company. The best way to deal with uncomfortable situations was to use good judgment. Those of you who f ly a lot are well aware of the longstanding controversy over the number and size of carry-on bags.
The rulebook was replaced with more general guidelines for direction, rather than a rule for every inevitability, because Bethune knew that the rules would destroy the creativity of employees.
After renting a car at the Los Angeles airport, the Spectors spent a couple of days in Los Angeles, and then drove south to Orange County for a little rest and relaxation at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel. One night, while they were driving around Laguna Beach, the icon for the engine lighted up on the dashboard. The following morning, Robert called the rental car agency and told them of the problem.
Second of all, we know there is something wrong with the engine of this car, and you want me to drive 45 minutes up the freeway. No, I want you to bring me a new car to my hotel. I speak to business groups all over the country Dump the Rules about good customer service and bad customer service. Forty-five minutes later, a new car arrived at the hotel.
Subscribe to view the full document. I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero. New York Institute of Technology, Manhattan.
COM is a concentrated business information service. Every week, subscribers are e-mailed a concise summary of a different business book. Each summary is about 8 pages long and contains the stripped-down essential ideas from the entire book in a time-saving format.
By investing less than one hour per week in these summaries, subscribers gain a working knowledge of the top business titles. Subscriptions are available on a monthly or yearly basis. Further information is available at. The underlying philosophy and culture of the Nordstrom Way is disarmingly simple: Use your own initiative to provide customers with exceptional levels of service.
How the company organizes and empowers its employees to use their initiative in practice is impressive. Firstly, the company has a culture which lauds exceptional acts of customer service and stresses employees are free to use their initiative at all times and in all situations -- to act as if they were entrepreneurs in business for themselves.
But equally importantly, the company then delivers on that basic premise by supporting its employees in the decisions they make.