A few days ago I read an interesting article written by Teresa Boardman of the St. Paul Real Estate Blog about customer service. Working in a occupation where service is so important, I thought I would pass along my recent experience at a retailer known world wide for its high level of customer service, Nordstroms.
Yesterday morning my wife, daughter, and I went to the Nordstrom’s after Christmas sale to get me a pair of pants. I’ve lost a few pounds since a recent health setback forced me to come to grips with my expanding waistline. We walked into the men’s department and went looking for a pair of pants. I searched and found a few pairs that I liked and went to try them on. Walking past the register and a group of sales associates in deep discussion, I found the fitting rooms and went in. Unfortunately, they were all locked and there was no attendant in site to let me in. I thought about having my daughter climb under the door to let me in, but realized that wouldn’t be prudent, so I went in search of the fitting room key. To my surprise, the group of sales associates who, not just a minute ago were standing at the register gabbing, had all but disappeared. Eventually, I found someone with the key and went to work trying on pants.
Good news! I am now one size smaller. Bad news, I have to go in search of a smaller sized pair of pants. My search for help continues. I leave the fitting room wearing over-sized pants in search of the correct size (trust me, not a pretty picture). Note: still no sales associate in site. Thinking to myself, “I’m a guy who doesn’t like to shop and I have a credit card. Any sales associate with half a brain could make a quick killing. Say hello! Walk me to the display. Pull out a pair of pants in my size. Walk me to the fitting room. Have me try the pants on. Tell me they don’t make my butt look too big and ring them up.” But noooo, they want to watch me wonder aimlessly throughout the store until I’m delirious.
Finally, my wife corners a newbie sales associate (he looked about 12 and appeared as if he actually wanted to help). Obviously, he didn’t go through the Nordstrom’s “ignore the customer” training like the other sales associates did. What he lacked in training, he actually made up for in effort. He checked the computer to see if they had my size and then went to work tracking down the elusive pair of pants. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find those exact pants, but he did find some that worked. He spent about 10 minutes with us and made the sale.
Aside from avoiding Nordstroms during the holidays, one may ask what I learned from yesterday’s shopping trip? It’s simple. Next time I meet with a client, I’ll remember that sometimes we can be the best trained and most knowledgeable yet still miss the boat when it comes to satisfying our customers. Customer satisfaction can only be determined by the customer. Here’s to a great 2008!