By: David Chung
Do you know which department store is the number one in the world for customer experience? The answer is Nordstrom.
Many things separate Nordstrom from other traditional department stores. One of the most important arrangements is the stores’ return policy; or rather, the lack of one. It doesn’t matter how long ago you purchased an item, how worn out it is, whether you have the receipt—if the item is not working for you, Nordstrom will accept it as a return.
Nordstrom delivers a great customer experience in many other ways as well. Their customer service staff can offer to ring up your purchase without you ever having to stand in line. They provide personal shoppers/concierges. Their departments are generally trained to answer the phone on no more than the second ring. They also separate their checkout bays by department.
Stop & Think!
As a customer, how does this make you feel?
Their customer service staff are taught to walk your bagged purchase around the counter to you rather than to hand it across the counter. The staff rarely point: if you have a question about where something is located, they will walk you there. And they use code words and directions to communicate with employees over the intercom system.
Stop & Think!
As a customer service professional, what can you learn?
  • 1-to-1 service. In most departments, if you indicate a desire to shop, there is a customer service staff member available to help you find what you need.
  • In-store amenities. Whether it be specialty coffee or the Nordstrom Bistro, Cafe, or Grill, there is always good food nearby, as well as clean bathrooms, comfortable ladies’ powder rooms, and nursing mother and changing rooms. Nordstrom alway
    s makes their stores comfortable.
  • Nordstrom will rarely ask shopping customers to leave after closing time—the staff is respectful, and customers will never be rushed or shooed out of the door.
Nordstrom has worked to eliminate these traditional shopper “pain points.” Rethinking “business as usual” enabled Nordstrom to break away from the pack, and it can also serve your small business. Take a closer look at the customer journey or experience when it comes to your own store.
Stop & Think!
As a service team leader, how might you…
  • Help customers find what they’re looking for faster?
  • Help customers check out faster?
  • Build a more personal relationship with each customer?
  • Enable a unique and branded shopping experience?
  • Empower customers to spread positive word-of-mouth?
Having a greater degree of empathy for your customers will enable you to see and solve problems that you previously might never have noticed
Conclusion
Nordstrom’s exceptional customer service comes primarily as a result of two main components: their attention to detail in terms of the customer experience and the level to which they empower their employees. Together, these two factors create an unstoppable customer service engine that continues to create stories that become legends.
A good question to ask yourself is, “When was the last time I empowered my staff to use their good judgment instead of relying on me or a binder to make decisions?”Even if you answered “never,” it is not too late to start thinking about how you might empower your employees and see how they perform differently.
Stop & Think!
As a business leader, what can you do differently in designing the guiding principles of your customer experience strategies?