Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Report: The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence

B+ This book was written by: 1) an author that is on the speaking circuit regarding the Nordstrom Way; and 2) a former long-term Nordstrom employee. So in terms of expertise on how the famous department store serves customers to drive sales, these guys have it.

I have spoken and written about how banks lack the proper training, motivation/incentives, and expertise to become an advisory industry. This book, although more appropriate to retail sales, goes into great detail how the Nordstrom sales force drives sales through superior customer service. Customer service is defined, although not formally in this book but throughout the pages within it, as knowing your customers, going beyond the call of duty, and being an expert in the departments where you work so your customers walk away with the right products, with the right fit, at the right time.

Here are the top things I like about the book and how they pertain to banking:

1. Sales are the result of the superior customer service described above. We have been guilty in banking of promoting a “sales” culture that has devolved into nothing more than product pushing. By reading this book, I think bankers will have a better understanding of the genesis of a sale. As stated in the book, those responsible for sales should relax and stop worrying about making sales. When you stop worrying about money and concentrate on serving the customer, the money will follow;

2. Hire on attitude. Nordstrom doesn’t have a formal training program and the book identifies the person responsible for training a salesperson as “their parents”. In other words, parents teach their kids to be nice, to get along well with others, to listen. This is contrary to a previous post I made regarding bank training programs (see link below). But we as bankers know that no amount of training can fix a person with a bad attitude, and we have quite a few of those out there representing our banks;

3. Describes details of effective customer service habits. The book described in detail what Nordstrom Pacesetters (top sales people) do to achieve and maintain that status. Imagine if your bank personnel made 40 calls per day to customers and prospective customers. That would be a paradigm shift for our industry.

Here are the top things I didn’t like about the book:

1. The book was too one-sided. The authors, Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy, slobbered all over the Nordstroms, the company, and its people. There was nary a constructive criticism in the book, calling into suspicion the effectiveness of some of the techniques they were touting;

2. It is a book on retailing. Even though there are great lessons and techniques in this book for bankers, it is first and foremost a book about retailing.

Considering the negatives, I would still recommend bankers read this book. The culture this company developed through superior customer service and empowering employees is one, if given the opportunity, banks would revert to in a heartbeat. The first step in changing culture is to dream what it could be. The Nordstrom Way is a vision of how it could be, and lessons in how to get there.

- Jeff

Book Report note: I will occasionally read books that I believe are relevant to the banking industry. To help you determine if the book is a worthwhile read for your purposes, I will review them here. My mother said if I did not have something nice to say about someone, then don’t say it. In that vein, I will only review books that I perceive to be a “B” grade or better. Disclosure: I will typically have the reviewed book on my bookshelf on the right margin of this blog. If you click on any book on the shelf and buy it, I receive a small commission; typically not enough to buy a Starbucks skinny decaf latte with a sugar-free caramel shot, but perhaps enough to buy a small coffee at Wawa.

Employee Training Post: Are your employees ESWS qualified:

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! In my opinion, Excellent customer service must have excellent customer service skills, a clear speaking voice. Excellent customer service also must have an enthusiastic and positive attitude. I believe that treating the customer so politely makes them so comfortable with your services.