CHSA | Blog

8 May 2019

Nordstrom is winning hearts, hands-down with their super customer service. Today, Nordstrom runs 260 stores in 35 different states with 117 full-line stores and 143 Nordstrom Rack stores. They are set to expand to 45 new locations by 2018. Would you believe that’s achievable for a brand that has a one-liner strategy, verbatim?

Nordstrom Rule #1: Use the best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.


We all have greatly laid out CX strategies running for our business, but how do we get them to be synonymous with our product? How can your decisions sing along to the story we want to be told by our customers? Surely, your emphasis is on creating the product, but what about creating the additional experience? A memory, a catchphrase, a feel-good moment, all for your customer to remember you by? Let’s find out what is so beautifully right about Nordstrom.

What’s so great about Nordstrom’s service strategy?

John W. Nordstrom laid it out nice and simple in this founding quote-

“Do whatever it takes to take care of your customer”, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you’ve not gotten a chance to shop at the Nordstrom store yet, here’s a quick insight. You will L-O-V-E their salespersons. Their visuals are bold, store announcements are discreet- ‘Laurie Black on six-six please, as opposed to blaring ’Buy one get one Free on Detergent aisle’; and instructions to employees are to be as helpful as they can be. Their emphasis on visual products is focused. Did you know that a salesperson at Nordstrom rarely ever points in the direction of their merchandise? On being asked about it, they will simply walk you to your aisle and assist you with the purchase. Another superb factor is their return policy. Whether or not your purchase has a bill, if you’re not happy with your buy at any point, they are always happy to take it back & offer you something more suited. Look at how they made Katie, a very happy girl when she eyed a purse she couldn’t purchase at the time.



So, Katie ended up with a $50 gift card in her email. Did she buy the bag? NO. But she’s saving it for her next happy purchase. They made a winning customer & how! Let’s see if you can humor us into one more quick story of greatness? This one is probably heard of in every use-case study available ever, but just to reiterate, here goes. Part of the reason that Nordstrom has become a legendary name in customer service is because of this ‘tyres’ story. A man rolled into Alaska’s Nordstrom with his car and demanded money back on his tyres. Nordstrom took them back and offered him a full refund. Do they sell tyres? NO. The history goes that Nordstrom purchased the store space in Alaska, which was originally an auto store from which the man had bought the tyres. The man had reason to believe, that’s where he must go to get his tyre refunded and boy did Nordstrom deliver. An ex-employee confirms it’s true. Such dedication to customer excellence reaps its awards in the reputation they garner, having slowly carved their key differentiation from competitors in the market.



They live out their carefully deliberated upon decisions for customer care, every single day as the highest priority. Their employees’ performance is incentivized so well that they have a ‘Million Dollar Club’ comprising their top salesmen who bring in the millions to the business. A regular salesman is incentivized enough to be able to make an easy 6-figure salary and commissions up to 10% and more on top of that. If you’d visit the store, you’d notice the salesmen will always walk your baggage around the billing counter, instead of you having to throw it over the counter, as normal dictates. The phone is answered within no more than 2 rings, and you will find at every step just how very intricately but rather simply they have eased out the customer shopping pain points. Waiting in queues, looking for sizes that aren’t in the store, or even getting help finding you missing your diamond ring whilst outfit-gazing, these are just a few examples of why a customer loves their Nordstrom so much. You bet their salesmen carry their own customized Business cards, should you wish to connect with the specific person for any kind of help in the shopping.

What can your business emulate quickly?

Service is a culture, not a department- as rightly said in this article about their founding philosophy: offer the customer the best possible service, selection, quality and value.

Product placement in-store


Nordstrom’s store layouts are Clean, Neat and have lots of breathing space characterized by their bold visual branding. For your customer, that opens freedom of movement and more time spent engaging with your store.

Cultivating nurturing employees

Apart from using personalized communication between your customers and employees, it is also imperative to cultivate a nurturing, growth mindset in your team. Arming your sales execs, customer reps or any member on the front-lines, with the right amount of power to exercise their best judgment leads to lesser mishaps in sales handling. Human touch is always preferred, and it becomes increasingly important to train your team to gear for positivity in their dealings. Especially in industries like retail, where one can’t simply afford to have even one day in sales loss.

Actually, care for customers instead of doing customer care

It’s true that no special skills can actually be taught when it comes to caring. It’s a human prerogative mostly motivated by a set of reactions to the environment. In discussing this pillar to all businesses since time, it has been proven that there is no real yardstick that can measure how to care for your customers better. Once your business goals have been aligned with your customer’s expectations, then the actual cycle of nourishment takes seed. Personalization has always been top of the game for brands who value what their customers think of them.