At both the 360 Legal Conference at the beginning of May and our Conscious Conference, the lack of customer service in the legal sector was remarked on by speakers. It was this, plus curiosity regarding what does make impeccable customer service, which encouraged me to read The Nordstrom Way. I can now see that when it comes to customer service, retail giant Nordstrom are gurus.
The Nordstrom Way’s charm lies in its simplicity, personal accounts and a lack of ego from its founding members and partners, which give the book both credibility and warmth. Simply put, it’s straight from the horse’s mouth! Partners, Managers and Sales Associates have been given their own voice in this book, which in itself provides great insight into the culture and success of Nordstrom. The retail chain appreciates its staff, recognizing that they are its most effective tool; especially the sales associates on the shop floor as they are the first port of call for Nordstrom’s customers. All the staff are empowered, informed and have the authority to make their own decisions. Nordstrom has both faith and trust in its sales associates to push decision-making responsibilities down to the sales floor and as such its staff are enthusiastic and innovative.
While vastly concerned with how the company started, progressed and grew to be one of the biggest retail chains in the US, The Nordstrom Way also tells some very interesting perspectives and stories from people on the ground. This book would shock you (in a good way) with the lengths that Nordstrom go to to keep their customers. My favourite (of a fair few) stories taken from the book is the tale of the salesperson in a store in Alaska that returned a set of automobile tyres and gave the customer a refund. Nordstrom has never sold tyres, but acquired the store from the Northern Commercial Company which did, so when the customer returned them to Nordstrom, the return was accepted.
This book was great to review because of how easily its methods of effective customer service can be applied to other sectors. Broadly speaking there are 7 main areas that the book outlines as ways to enact effective customer service:
- Always listen to your client
- Follow up calls
- Give your client your full attention
- Identify their needs and bend over backwards to help
- Get in touch without an agenda (over coffee perhaps)
- Introduce effective CRM; nowadays SugarCRM is all the rage! Plus we've optimised it for Law Firms, why not have a read about how?
- Make people want to shout about your service from the rooftops by doing all of the above! And ensure that they have the outlet to do so, preferably via social media where many people will see it.