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Nordstrom vs. Saks Fifth Ave

    • 335 posts
    January 17, 2007 8:43 AM EST
    Here`s a personal customer service experience i recently had that really separates the wheat from the chaf.

    I was in Arizona in the first week of december and was instructed by my now wife that i needed a nice "ensemble" to wear to the rehearsal dinner for our wedding, which was just a few short weeks ahead on New Year`s Eve.

    I went to the Nordstrom store in Scottsdale and waded through the crowds to find my duds. A baggy jeaned, frowsy haired hipster teen-ager named Jared helped me find the "perfect" shirt. But unfortunately, they didn`t have my size. He offered to locate the shirt at another Nordstrom and have it sent to me back in Michigan. I bit on the kind offer. But I was worried that it wouldn`t actually arrive on time given we were in the middle of the holiday season.

    A week later, not only did the shirt arrive via UPS but I got a call the very next day from none other than the hipster ... Jared ... saying, "Mr. Sloan, just calling to make sure you received the shirt and that it`s what you were expecting."

    I was totally wowwed by the timely follow up and let Jared know it bigtime! Amazing that a huge organization like that was able to take personal care of me.

    That was clearly some fantastic customer care - and I remain totally impressed with Jared and with Nordstrom for treating me this way.

    Now, let me contrast that with my experience at Saks. In the last week of November, my now wife also let me know that I should probably mothball my high school-era tux and "invest" in a new one that will last the next ten years of my life ... and more immediately, so I would look like a handsome groom standing next to my gorgeously appointed bride... I took on the assignment and  drove out to the local Saks forthwith to buy the fancy shmancy tux.

    The best part of the Saks customer experience was that they made me feel like James Bond. I was surrounded by tailors and salesmen and even the store manager in the wood paneled dressing area - they kindly offered drinks, were acting very chummy, and were flattering me with comments like, "did you play football?". If you knew me more than virtually, you`d know that that would not be a thought occuring to 99% of people encountering me on a walk-by. But frankly, it made me feel good, feel like a pro, and feel like an elegant groom-to-be. Basically, they had me.

    They said they`d call in the middle of the following week to schedule a time for me to do the final fitting. The middle of that next week came. No call. The next monday I called them and spoke to the senior salesman who`d helped me find the tux.

    "Can i get that tux - the wedding`s coming right up," I said.

    "Oh, sure - it`s ready. We just forgot to call you. So sorry!" was his response.

    Okay, it`s a busy time of year. I went right in. Unfortunately, they had taken UP the sleeves, not let them out the half inch. And then I noticed another thing - the cloth of the pants didn`t match the cloth of the jacket. They argued at first, telling me the universal lament of department stores: "The light in here can really fool you." But upon closer examination, indeed, they were two totally different cloths and they had to start over completely with a new tux.

    To make a long story short, it took two more fittings due to sloppiness and lack of attention to detail, the last one "while I waited" the day before we were to depart for the wedding.

    In this department store customer experience battle, Nordstrom TOTALLY dominated.. I wish I had bought my tux there, even if they didn`t wine and dine me to get me in the purchasing mood, they treated me with care long after they closed the sale with me.

    I guess there`s a lesson here for entrepreneurs, and it`s simply that going the extra mile can have a HUGE impact on your customer. Taking your service above and beyond expectations in creative ways can have a profoundly positive impact on loyalty, word of mouth (as this post perfectly reflects), and future revenue.

    Are you a Nordstrom or a Saks in your customer relations?

    And anyone have any cool strategies we can all deploy that really make a positive impression on people?

    ---
    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation

    • 335 posts
    January 31, 2007 2:22 PM EST
    we can all learn something from nordstrom it seems.

    their big lesson for us little guys/gals seems to be "going the extra mile". it`s a winning strategy.

    ---
    Rich Sloan , Co-Founder, Chief Startupologist, StartupNation