The Nordstrom employee who cheerfully gift wrapped products a customer bought at Macy’s – would this ever happen in your business?

Posted on

May 25th, 2010

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This is a story you have probably seen several times. It is sort of a business proverb. Most famously shared by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in ‘Built to Last’ – this is a story told to new Nordstrom employees and exemplifies the superior customer service they are expected to deliver. At first glance this story shocks most of us. It defies capitalism.

I recently read ‘Made to Stick’ by Chip & Dan Heath. They examine this story from a different perspective. Why does the statement convey its message so effectively? They argue that the act is unexpected and powerful – so powerful that it changes the service paradigm in the mind of a new employee.

Reading their thoughts triggered two questions: 1 – Should I be shopping more at Nordstrom? 2 – Do we provide service at this level in the insurance business?

The first question is up to my wife, so we will skip that for now. But the second question is one we should all examine carefully. To be candid, my experience with insurance agencies indicates that we do not. This would be equivalent to servicing a policy for a competing agency while they are receiving the commission. An idea that makes most of us cringe.

So I will throw down a challenge to you all and to myself – seek out an opportunity to provide unexpected, superior service to a client or prospect. This is something you can do this week. And if your good deed is powerful enough – you might shift your organization’s service paradigm for the better.

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