Summary of The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence, 2nd Edition

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The Nordstrom Way to Customer Experience Excellence, 2nd Edition book summary
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  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


The name Nordstrom is synonymous with excellent customer service. Robert Spector and Breanne O. Reeves highlight what the Nordstrom department store chain does differently from its competitors to maintain its trademark reputation. This inside look is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the retail industry. You will learn Nordstrom’s history from its humble beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, as the Wallin & Nordstrom shoe store, to its current status as a retail powerhouse. Frontline employees will be able to use Nordstrom’s techniques, no matter where they work. In fact, people in every industry can draw from the customer-service practices described here. Anecdotal evidence of the success of these practices makes this book easy to read and enjoyable, but don’t expect to hear a discouraging word. Anyone in customer service or retail – and any Nordstrom shopper – will relish this portrait of what good service is and how to make money with it. 

About the Authors

Robert Spector is a speaker, educator and consultant. He is also the author of Get Big Fast and The Mom & Pop Store, and he wrote about Nordstrom for Women’s Wear Daily and other Fairchild Fashion Group publications. He and customer experience expert Breanne O. Reeves co-founded the RSI Consultancy.



Only One Rule

Managers give new employees a five- by eight-inch card on their first day at Nordstrom; it’s called the Nordstrom Employee Handbook. The handbook welcomes employees, encourages them to set high personal and professional goals, and outlines the company’s rules. Rule one is: “Use your good judgment in all situations.” That is the only rule.

Nordstrom is different from most other companies because it gives its employees the freedom to make decisions, and its management is willing to live with those decisions. This attitude has helped the company develop an army of highly motivated employees who share an entrepreneurial spirit.

The company’s liberal return policy, and its decision to empower workers to accept merchandise returns and make independent decisions adds up to an unusually high level of service. These policies enable staffers to perform the “heroic” acts of customer service that add to the chain’s mystique. These principles separate Nordstrom from its competitors, but its managers readily admit that not everybody can handle its high demands and expectations. To succeed, employees must...

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