A Nordstrom “Nordie” Story

An unexpected customer service story right out of the pages of Chip & Dan Heath’s “Made to Stick”.

A Nordie Story
A Nordie Story

A little off topic for me but …
For the most part, I focus my posts on social software. But while doing so, I’m also working on a start-up project and spend time with books that I often refer to in my writings. Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die is one of them. As described in the book, one of the principles in getting someones attention, is to use stories about something unexpected.

Setting the scene
A few weeks ago, while on vacation, my family & I were walking through a mall in Hallandale, Florida. As we approached the Nordstrom department store, I started recounting some of the Nordie stories illustrated in the book, like;

The Nordie who ironed a new shirt for a customer who needed it for a meeting that afternoon;
The Nordie who cheerfully gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy’s;
The Nordie who refunded money for a set of tire chains – although Nordstrom doesn’t sell tire chains.

My wife – Anna, thought the first one believable, the second just a mistake and the third simply ridiculous. But as fate would have it, Anna needed a dress for an upcoming wedding and despite my being the poster child for “I hate shopping”, I suggested we try Nordstrom simply because of the book.

The scene
Right, or, wrong, this is how I shop with Anna & the kids – Sara (11) and Alex (7): I let Anna walk up front while the kids and I hang a few steps behind. Being the Poster Child, I often backseat drive and offer which direction we should be going – call it payback πŸ™‚ However, this time I got us into a small enclosed area of with some brand name over top which I never heard but had Anna chuckling to herself. You must know that chuckle. The one you get when you refuse to stop for driving directions and you end up on dead end street. Within less than a minute, Anna held up a white T-shirt with a movie poster on it for $395 US dollars. I then bowed my head, held my kids close by and quickly and quietly, followed Anna into a friendlier neighbourhood.

The score
Thankfully, we found our way into a area that was more appropriate for our budget. And with the quick help of a salesperson – Bethany, Anna tried on a few dresses & settled on the first one – which by the way was around $150 US dollars. There was only one slight glitch; both Anna & Bethany thought a “shrug” would go nicely but there wasn’t anything suitable in the store.

So Bethany offered to hold onto the dress for a few days while Anna (read “we”) scoured the mall (read “malls”) for the shrug. However, feeling a little smug about scoring the dress in Nordstrom’s and fearing that a pattern may be emerging, I encouraged Anna that it would be a lot easier, to find the shrug if she had the dress with her. Besides, in the worst case, if Nordstrom could take back tire chains they can certainly take back the dress. Since the customer is always right πŸ™‚ , Bethany offered Anna a few places to check and sure enough, we scored the shrug too.

The unexpected
A week after returning home to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Anna received that Thank You card above. Needless to say, the both of us were impressed. Its not like we’ll be back in area next weekend and decide to stop by Nordstrom’s. its also not as if Anna bought the $395 white T-shirt with the movie poster on it. But it was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. One worth retelling and one worth visiting Nordstrom’s the next time we’re in the neighbourhood.

Thank You Bethany!

Thoughts?
Given the current economic climate, I would imagine more and more retailers would be following Nordstom’s lead. Do you have any unexpected customer service stories you’d like to share?

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