Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Customer Service Is Rarely A Surprise

Last weekend I had cause to shop at both Nordstrom's and Wal-Mart on the same day. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was in a hurry. I knew exactly what I needed in each store and my hope was to get in - and get out!

On first glance, which store do you think provided me with the superior customer service experience?

Yes, it was Nordstrom's. NO CONTEST. You knew that without thinking about it.

The person behind the counter at the Tire Center in Wal-Mart was very nice, and I am sure she meant well, but molasses runs faster in January. I was second in line but it took me over twenty-five minutes to get my paperwork completed so that they could repair my tire (which had somehow decided to pick up a nail). Three times she asked me to spell my last name. Singer is not that hard of name. S-I-N-G-E-R.

Upon getting everything set up she hit enter and the whole transaction disappeared from her screen. Back to square one. S-I-N-G-E-R. The bothersome part is that she told me this happens all the time. America's largest retailer might need to upgrade some software!

While this was going on, my wife and kids were waiting outside. After 20 minutes my wife called my cell phone to see if I had been abducted by aliens.

Later that day I had to run into Nordstrom's to grab a birthday gift for a family member. When my wife dropped me off, there was a huge sign on the door that read "Half-Yearly Sale". For anyone familiar with Nordstrom's, you instantly know that this means half of Central Texas would be in the store. Yep....crowded, crazy, insanity.

I grabbed the gift and went to the line. From nowhere, a Nordstrom employee realizing that the person in front of me had a large purchase, opened a new register.

Additionally, the person who waited on me was upbeat and enthusiastic. The craziness of the sale did not phase him. His attitude put me in a great mood as well (I am smiling just typing about it). I was back at the car in just minutes.

I wish this post was one where I tell the reader I was pleasantly surprised by Wal-Mart...but my experience was just what I would have expected. When I walk into Nordstrom's I know I will get amazing service. At Wal-Mart I know they will have nice people who will try....but they will not be over the top. The people with the best skills in customer service will end up working for Nordstrom's. Always have, always will.

What about your business? Do your customers know in advance how an encounter with your company will play out? I bet they have preconceived notions of how your team will react to any customer service request. Hopefully they see you more like Nordstrom's!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

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