Robert Spector has made a pretty decent living out of studying how Nordstrom has turned the business of customer service into an art form. He travels around the country on speaking engagements from his book, “The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence.” Howard Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks said, “The Nordstrom Way shows the direct link between empowering your employees and creating a long-term relationship with your customers.” Nordstrom is only one of five companies that has made it to the list of Fortune’s “best companies to work for” and “most admired” list every single year the surveys have been taken.
But what does Nordstrom have to do with nonwovens?
Spector’s point is that every company has something to learn from the Nordstrom business model. There are a few things that your nonwoven manufacturing or converting company can do to ensure the satisfaction of your customers and employees to help your business ultimately add to the bottom line.
- Remember that every employee is in the business of customer service. Each and every employee that comes into contact with the outside world is a representative of your company. Every employee can make a direct impact on your customers (and your business) just by doing their job well and by always ultimately focusing on the customer needs.
- Use good judgment. The one rule that all Nordstrom employees are given and told to follow without question is this: “Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.” Let’s think for a minute about every interaction your employees have with each other and with your customer base. If every single interaction is laced with good judgment, you can rest assured that positive things will happen for your business.
- Set goals. Nordstrom employees are encouraged to set daily, monthly and yearly goals. Those goals are monitored and an atmosphere of friendly competition among employees is encouraged. This can work not only in a retail environment but also in a manufacturing or converting environment. Maybe the goals revolve around production or sales or even shipping products.
- Always keep outstanding customer service as a main focus. Nordstrom employees are encouraged to keep records of all of their customers. They emphasize earning customer trust and they focus on treating people like they are the most important person in the world. Because people always prefer to do business with people they know and like, it’s no different in the manufacturing industry.
One might think that Nordstrom is a very different business than nonwoven manufacturing or converting but regardless of what industry you’re in, the Nordstrom principles of employee management and customer service are powerful, engaging, and effective. We could all learn a little something from them.