When some business owners reflect on the phenomenal success of businesses like Nordstrom, the well-known 108-year-old brand which will make and estimated $8 billion this year, they usually don’t understand the reasons for that success. They probably think the reasons for the success are high profit margins, low employee wages and benefits, or more advertising.
According to Robert Spector, best-selling author and international speaker and author of <u>The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence</u>, the real secret – the one the failing business owner doesn’t understand – is the importance of the customer. Whether the customer visits their luxury stores, calls the credit department or finds their website, the customer immediately feels like they are of the utmost importance to the employee.
The customer experience at Nordstroms begins when they enter the store and step on to an escalator. It is comfortably wide. Escalators at most stores are 36 inches wide; at Nordstrom they are 42 inches wide. Each store features two escalators rather than the standard one, and the boarding areas are kept clear of clutter. Every facet of the customer experience is thought out from every possible angle. Customer satisfaction surveys are used as a call to action and the data is passed through analytics programs and studied by their employees.
Nordstrom finds employees who embody their brand. They hire nice people and teach them to sell; failing brands hire sales people and try to teach them to be nice. It’s that flip-side; innovative thinking that puts a business ahead of the competition.
The secret to a billion dollar business is to commit 100% to the customer service using these and other steps to success:
• Let the employee have the power to make decisions rather than running to a supervisor. If they make the wrong decision, view it as a lesson for the future. It is more important that your employees commit to your customer-centered vision than to control the employee rigidly from the top.
• Make sure your employees understand your commitment to the customer and that your team is working toward the goal of 100% customer satisfaction.
• Mentorship should be natural and organic. Allow the employees to, naturally and without interference, find mentors and eventually mentor others.
• Use frequent staff meetings to let top salespersons teach skills to other employees.
• Celebrate heroes often and loudly. Let your employees know they are central to your business’ success – they are.
Mike is a business consultant, author and blogger residing in Portland Oregon. He recommends customer experience data and analytics from Mindshare Technologies to turn your customer feedback into digestible, actionable instruction.