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 terney.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 .
Question 3: How do we see ourselves? Question 4: How do our competitors see us? Question 5: How do our customers see us? Question 6: How do our suppliers see us? The store is so great. The customer service is fabulous. We look forward to having Nordstrom in Houston.
Excitement is building on both sides of the foot-wide divider. Finally, at precisely 9: Hyperkinetic shoppers in front of the throng hardly hesitate to wait for the divider to raise up all the way. They duck underneath and begin dashing into the store in a scene reminiscent of the running of the bulls at Pamplona.
Some are dancing, some are skipping, some with feet barely touching the marble f loor beneath them—they are being high-fived by beaming Nordstrom employees, who have lined up at the entrance to applaud and cheer the new shoppers—a longstanding company tradition. There is nothing quite like the opening of a new Nordstrom store to quicken the pulse—and open the purse—of serious shoppers.
Having opened nearly stores in every corner of the United States, Nordstrom has perfected an opening day plan of attack as precise as the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. With convenience and openness the trademarks of its store design, Nordstrom wants to make it as easy as possible for customers to circulate and shop throughout the entire store, and for salespeople to help them do just that. Nordstrom, who is considered something of a student of store design and customer reaction. Most department stores in suburban malls have just one elevator; Nordstrom has two elevators in its three-level stores.
The waiting areas around elevators are extra wide to make it easy for customers to navigate with baby strollers or in wheelchairs, and the elevators themselves are larger than average, making it easier to load and unload those strollers and wheelchairs. Escalators are 42 inches wide—compared with the inch-wide escalators found in most other department stores—allowing spouses or children to ride side-by-side.
Unobstructed sight lines enable the customers riding on the escalators to quickly scrutinize the full spectrum of the selling f loor. The aisles give shoppers the freedom to circle the store and to plunge into the center of each individual department. Nordstrom believes that if you can lure customers to the perimeter back walls of the store, they are more apt to make a download. Unlike large retailers who close off their departments with walls or dividers, Nordstrom features departments that are freestanding.
Spaces in virtually every department are made warm and comfortable by the furnishings, as well as plants, plush carpeting, 46 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer lighting, wainscoting, and artwork.
The displays change regularly to maintain interest among frequent shoppers. Secondary aisles that run through the back of the departments are about 10 feet from the back wall. Along the back walls, the merchandise is highlighted and romanced, like artwork in a gallery, by spot lighting and warm wall coverings instead of paint. We can be more efficient than that.
As an extreme example, The Mall of America store in Minneapolis stocks over , different sizes, styles, and colors; a more typical suburban store will carry 70, pairs. At newer Nordstrom stores, half the footwear inventory in each department is stocked directly behind that department, which makes a sale easier and less time-consuming for both the salesperson and the customer. The other half of the footwear inventory is stocked in mezzanines, which are directly above the shoe stock, adjacent to the sales f loor.
Because Nordstrom carries so many shoes, and because most feet are tough to fit, Nordstrom knows that customers are going to be in the footwear department for a while, so they make sure the customers are comfortable. While most other retailers fill their shoe departments with a line of half a dozen or so straight-back chairs, Nordstrom creates a homey parlor or lounge feeling with plushy upholstered sofas and as many as 50 to 75 upholstered chairs.
These chairs are custom-made because the typical department store chair is not durable, or tall enough to meet Nordstrom specifications. Chair legs and armrests are made a bit taller than average, and the seating is firmer, which makes it easier for a person to stand up. Consequently, customers need only focus on how the shoe feels; they have no difficulty getting up out of the chair. Inventories of the item of the day are 48 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer stockpiled just inside the stockroom door so that they are readily available to salespeople, who sometimes receive extra bonuses for selling those featured items.
Not surprisingly, customers frequently comment on how comfortable the seating is throughout the store; husbands and boyfriends can be found sitting restfully, waiting for their ladies, rather than hurrying them out of the store.
Nordstrom knows that customers will stay a little longer and try on one more shoe if they—and their gentlemen—are comfortable. A Seattle writer named J. I followed my wife While she shopped From store to store she went I the great man was spent The f lesh pulled on my bones like two bags of cement At last I found a chair Heaven only could have been more fair Of all the stores Nordstrom was best They gave a husband a place to rest.
Usually located by the escalator, the Nordstrom piano has become something of a cultural icon. Bush and a trained classical pianist once joked that her ability was just good enough to get her a job playing at Nordstrom. In the novel, Sleeping with Schubert by Bonnie Marson, the heroine a neophyte musician suddenly channels the classical composer when she spontaneously begins to play a piano at a Nordstrom store, setting off a series of events that eventually leads to her giving a recital at Lincoln Center in New York New York: Random House, Fitting rooms in the more fashionable ready-towear departments include tables, table lamps, and telephones.
Particular attention is given to the lighting of the mirrors in the dressing rooms. Nordstrom uses a combination of incandescent and f luorescent lights so that the customer can see the actual colors of the item being downloadd.
Reducing the use of incandescent lighting had the added benefit of keeping down the temperature in the dressing rooms. Nordstrom also adjusts the coolness of the dressing rooms with a dedicated thermostat that is separate from the thermostats that control the temperature on 50 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer the sales f loor and in the adjoining rooms. When a customer is sequestered in a small, hot, and stuffy room, trying clothes on and then taking them off, that customer will invariably want to get through the experience as quickly as possible.
Consequently, the company will do whatever it takes to keep that customer in the store, to continue to give him or her the opportunity to make downloads. Another way to keep people in the store is to feed them. Food and restaurant services have increasingly become an important attraction at Nordstrom. They generate profits while enhancing the shopping environment and, of course, give customers another reason not to leave the store.
Nordstrom has several in-store restaurant concepts, depending on the size and location of the individual store. The Espresso Bar known as the eBar , which is usually located at an entrance outside the store, serves gourmet coffee drinks, Italian sodas, and pastries to Nordstrom customers as well as people walking through the mall.
The Cafe serves soups, salads, sandwiches, pastries, and beverages. This restaurant is very popular. If there is not a table ready for you, Nordstrom will take your reservation while you continue to shop.
They give you, the customer, a beeper, promising to contact you when your table is ready. Something Extra. In several of its larger stores, Nordstrom offers a concierge desk where shoppers receive special attention, whether it be helpful information about the store, a restaurant recommendation, or assistance in calling a cab.
Need to check your coat, umbrella, and packages with the concierge? No problem. The Customer Service department in each store offers checkcashing privileges for Nordstrom cardholders, immediate posting of payments to Nordstrom accounts, answers to inquiries regarding those accounts, monthly statements, credit line increases, complimentary gift wrapping, and download of gift certificates.
Some of the larger stores have a SPA Nordstrom, which offers natural aromatherapy, herbal body wrap, massage therapy, manicures, and aromatic facials. Nordstrom also offers other features such as free gift boxes and a free personal shopping service, where a designated Nordstrom Personal Shopper will accompany the customer throughout the store to help with every downloading decision.
Having created the kind of pleasant, inviting place where most women feel extremely comfortable, Nordstrom became the logical retailer to pioneer in-store mammograms at its store, in , at the Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie, Illinois. The Breast Health and Mammography Center includes a state-of-the-art, 52 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer low-dose mammography machine and film processor operated by staff from two local hospitals.
Many rival department stores have since followed suit and are also offering mammograms. But is your business set up for clean restrooms? Several years ago, two female reporters from the Washington Post surveyed the ladies restrooms in all the department stores in the Washington, DC, area.
Their criteria were all the things we look for in a good restroom—ample space and supplies, cleanliness, diaper-changing facilities, and so on. Nordstrom was rated Number One. When your restrooms are clean and well supplied, you are telling your customer that you care about every aspect of their experience with your company. The store is the backdrop with compelling merchandise taking center stage. Ultimately, because we are designing for a much longer time curve, we work to create a quality shopping environment—a special place that feels inviting, warm, and comfortable.
Several companies, which were featured in the previous book, Lessons from The Nordstrom Way, illustrate how businesses in various categories can devise clever ways to create an inviting place.
Here are examples from a bank, a major airline, a regional medical facility, a world-class hotel, and a chain of car washes. In every one of its more than bank branches, FirstMerit Bancorporation, based in Akron, Ohio, features a receptionist whose primary purpose is to greet customers as they come in and offer assistance for whatever matters the customers need to resolve. The interior of a FirstMerit branch does not conjure up the typical branch bank experience.
The hues are bright; the chairs are comfortable, the displays for banking products are colorful. The teller line is located at the back of the branch so that 54 Line Up and Cheer for Your Customer customers walk past the product displays and the people who are selling those products.
Partitions provide privacy for customers who want to conduct their business with their personal FirstMerit banker. Continental Airlines allows its customers who are f lying in first class to carry on an extra bag—an amenity that most other airlines frown upon. So, regardless of the fact that you are a Platinum Elite first class ticket holder, you get the lowest common denominator on the baggage size.
Do the math: There are four seats across in first class and six seats across in coach. We offer you that. We want to make sure you can have them both. Why would we treat people on a as if they were flying on a DC10? We are not going to be at odds with our customer. Customers want and will pay for extra baggage space.
We are going to provide that. Our employees understand that. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, brought in experts from the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain to help to improve its food service. The kitchen responds to an order within 10 minutes. Coincidentally, St. Charles uses Callison Architecture, the firm that has designed every Nordstrom store. Charles was in taking care of the human element. In fact, when they really got honest in surveys, they would tell us that the hospital is a really frightening place to be.
Not only does their disease or illness take away a lot of their freedom, but as soon as they get to the hospital, we take away the rest of their freedom and dignity. Consequently, they are much more relaxed; they have less anxiety.
They use less anesthesia. They recover quicker and they have fewer complications. These things are not just for convenience. They actually predetermine the psychological environment of the patient, and subsequently the clinical environment as well. Charles takes into consideration how the medical center can be more efficient and customer friendly. For example, after patients complained of being cold in the old surgery center, when the new surgery center was built, one of the features was a fireplace in the lobby.
Measuring With so many parents traveling with small babies, W has been using special baby cribs as a differentiator between it and the competition.
Their children. We bought the nicest chrome baby cribs we could find. 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.
Customer service is like the weather. Everybody talks about it but nobody well, almost nobody does anything about it. And yet each one of us is an expert on customer service.
At one point or another during the course of our day, we are all customers. We know good service when we see it, and we know bad service when we see it. Picture a metaphorical customer service counter. On one side of the customer service counter is you, the customer. You know exactly what your expectations are: Simple stuff.
We all know this. Because a funny thing happens to people when they are on the other side of the customer service counter or the front desk or the reception area or on the the other end of the telephone or Internet—when they are in the position of having to give service as opposed to receiving service. It is as if they hit the delete button on their customer service memory. They forget about the Golden Rule, about empathy, about the customer.
Sorry, we have a rule against that. Can I get an answer to you next week? We want to be taken care of. Most companies, large and small, are based on a business model that is set up to make life easier for the company, not for the customer. Nordstrom people will do whatever it takes within reason, of course to take care of the customer.
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. If something is important to the customer, find a way to deliver.
Nordstrom urges new employees to be kind. Nordstrom management still believes that the Golden Rule has merit. Management empowers its employees to treat others as they would want to be treated.
Nordstrom believes that great service begins with showing courtesy to everyone—customers, employees, and vendors. When The Nordstrom Way was first published in , it struck a chord with many companies in a variety of industries.
Several hundred thousand copies and six iterations later, it continues to serve as an inspiration for many different types of businesses.
Although more than years old, Nordstrom continues to be the standard against which other companies and organizations privately and often publicly measure themselves. Nordstrom has long been a popular subject for study among authors of customer service books and educators at business graduate schools such as Harvard and Wharton.
Roll Call , the newspaper of Capitol Hill, once advised press aides for U. The New York Times Magazine once quoted a minister in Bel Air, California, who told his congregation in a Sunday sermon that Nordstrom carries out the call of the gospel in ways more consistent and caring than we sometimes do in the church.
The Wal-Mart model is good for some things, but if it is quality you desire, Nordstrom is the way. Businesses of every kind strive to become the the Nordstrom of their industry. Recreational Equipment Inc. A top broker for Century 21 once told Fast Company , I want people to think of me as the Nordstrom of real estate. University of Colorado Hospital installed a baby grand piano in the lobby and began advertising itself as The Nordstrom of Hospitals. You can find similar comparisons in yoga videos, office furniture, public libraries, construction supply distribution, hot tubs, dental offices, pet stores, sex shops, thermal rolls, foundries, workplace giving, doors and windows, and contract consulting.
Even Nordstrom uses this metaphor. So what does it mean to be the Nordstrom of your industry? How can an organization create a culture and atmosphere to provide Nordstrom-like service? This book answers those questions and shows you how to do it. The old saying about family businesses goes like this: The first generation builds them, the second generation enjoys them, and the third generation destroys them.
No one even bothers to mention the fourth generation because there are so few businesses that last that long.
If there was ever a family business that defies that stereotype, it is Nordstrom. Technically, Nordstrom is not a family business. The chairman of its board of directors since , Enrique Rick Hernandez is not a family member and has never worked for the company.
Nevertheless, Nordstrom is a family company in the sense that it is still run by members of the family. Brothers Blake, Peter, and Erik who are on the board of directors are the fourth generation to work in the business, which was founded by their great-grandfather, John W. The large extended Nordstrom family—most of whom are not active in the company—owns about 20 percent of the outstanding shares. Dollar for dollar, Nordstrom is one of the greatest stories in the history of American business.
We will never see the likes of it again. Johnson, and Mercedes-Benz. It is also one of the 25 most-admired companies in the United States, according to Fortune. Blake, Peter, and Erik have carried on the family tradition by always staying current. The Nordstroms profess to not being the smartest guys in the room, but they are certainly as competitive as any other guy in the room.
They like to win. First and foremost, Nordstrom follows a strategy built around the customer—not around price, process, brand, technology, or any other corporate tactic or buzzword you can think of.
When the company considers how it can improve service and results, it asks itself one question: What would the customer want? Everything Nordstrom does, every aspect of its business, is seen through the lens of the customer, with the goal of improving the experience that a customer has with Nordstrom.
If it matters to the customer, doing it well is good customer service. Dear Customers, Employees and Shareholders. Note the order of importance. Nordstrom believes that taking care of the customers and employees ultimately benefits the shareholders which include management, employees, and customers.
This singular focus on its customers keeps the company disciplined, yet daring, especially in difficult financial times. When faced with the economic downturn that began in , rapid, firm, methodical decision making allowed Nordstrom to both rein in costs and take advantage of opportunities given to the company by their irresolute competitors.
Nordstrom stayed directed toward improving the customer experience. Customers were not going to change for Nordstrom; Nordstrom had to change for the customers. The company encouraged its entrepreneurial employees to become even more involved in how the business was run.
Salespeople were challenged to become more creative with selling methods and to share their successes and failures with their teams. Everyone in the organization was asked for ideas on how to cut down on expenses without cutting down on service. We believe we are all responsible for keeping these components of who we are alive and well at Nordstrom. Why have they emphasized service? Nordstrom creates an emotional experience of shopping through personal service, special customer-focused events, a loyalty rewards program, and a virtually unconditional return policy.
Its high-cost, high-touch, high-tech model is famous throughout the world. The company never runs advertisements boasting about its customer service, nor does it ever send out press releases boasting about its customer service.
Top company executives rarely comment on service to the press. Yet their reputation has spread throughout the world. We have spoken about the company in a couple of dozen countries in every part of the world.