Superior Customer Service Is A Game Changer!
A recent article in Canadian Business magazine talked about the arrival of Nordstrom's department store to the Canadian market. The American retailer--famous for its extensive shoe department--has already set up shop in Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver. The focus of the story was Nordstrom's amazing (we're talking AMAZING) attention to customer service. The article cautioned other high-end Canadian retailers that the store's "gobsmackingly extraordinary service will make it tough to beat".
This fascinating article, written by Carol Toller, explains that Nordstrom employees will do whatever it takes to keep customers happy, including cheerfully taking back damaged returns and carrying purchases to customers' cars. There's even a report that a customer successfully returned a set of tires in Anchorage, Alaska, despite the fact that Nordstrom doesn't sell tires!
All of this got me thinking that it's so important for businesses to provide outstanding customer service if they want to gain an edge over their competition. I looked through the collection of books in the business department at the North York Central library and realized that, for the price of a library card (FREE!), business owners can access a lot of information on the topic.
The first resource I recommend (not surprisingly!) is The Nordstrom Way To Cusomer Service
Excellence. Originally written in 1995 by Robert Spector, the book has been updated several times. The 2012 edition gives practical advice--based on the store's strategies--that will help any business become the Nordstrom of its industry.
Thumbing through other books on the topic I realized that providing amazing service to people doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, many of the suggestions don't cost anything at all: smile; call the customer by name; be a good listener; value diversity in your client base; never argue with a customer; and if you don't know the answer to a question, find out and get back to the person.
Obviously not every strategy is going to be cost-free, but in many cases the price of losing a customer (and potentially other customers through word-of-mouth ) may be a steeper price to pay!
For information on the theme of customer service, check out the many titles available through the library--in conventional or on-line formats. Here's a sampling: