March 1998


Extraordinary salespeople provide exemplary service. You can do it too!

Customer service is the name of the game for jewelers today. A book about Nordstrom's legendary prowess in the service area reveals the secret: empower your people.

Ask your customers to name the retail store that offers the best customer service and many will respond "Nordstrom." Ask other retailers the same question and most will answer the same way. So how does Nordstrom do it?

The secrets are revealed in a book, The Nordstrom Way, that traces the company's history from its founding as a shoe store in Seattle in 1901 to the present. It offers a look at the philosophy of Nordstrom and its sales associates and how the two combine to make this successful retailer's name synonymous with good customer service. The book is written by Women's Wear Daily writer Robert Spector with Patrick D. Mc-Carthy, a Nordstrom employee for more than 20 years and one of the store's top-performing sales associates.

The book outlines several points of special interest to retail jewelers. In a chapter titled "The Nordstrom Culture," for example, the authors say Nordstrom's method of employee compensation - commission plus profit sharing - provides the highest compensation levels in the retail apparel industry. In a chapter titled "A Company of Entrepreneurs," you'll find information you might want to share with your sales force. Specifically, employees explain how they keep personal books, how they use telemarketing and how they approach customers.

Employees are encouraged to conduct their own sales campaigns. Nordstrom provides sales associates with support materials, such as thank-you notes, postcards to inform customers of new merchandise and upcoming sales, address labels, postage, telephones and word-processing equipment to personalize their correspondence.

"Sales associates warrant their higher costs by generating more business than their competition," says a company executive. The authors offer statistics showing a major competitor generates sales of $150 per square foot, while Nordstrom stores generate about $400 per square foot.

The authors also detail the company's motivational techniques, in-cluding intracompany competition and contests, the formula Nordstrom uses for its profit-sharing program. The authors describe Nordstrom's organizational structure as an inverted pyramid, and they detail the philosophy behind the company's famed money-back guarantee. Family-owned jewelry store managers will enjoy several examples of how family members with differing opinions work together and how decisions are made by consensus.

Summaries at the conclusion of each chapter provide quick highlights of the content and, in some cases, material jewelers can post on employee bulletin boards. The Nordstrom Way is available in book stores or can be ordered from John Wiley & Sons, 1 Wiley Drive, Somerset, NJ 08875; (800) 225-5945, ext. 2497. The book costs $14.95 in hard cover, $5.95 in soft.

- by Jack Heeger

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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