Sunday, November 8, 2009

Windy City Musings and literally "Walking the Talk"

There is something electric about this city. Growing up in Milwaukee and sharing Lake Michigan, Chicago is, as Frank crooned, my kind of town. The first "real" hotel I stayed at when I was 5 years old, was The Drake: iconic, classic, and replete with legacy. The Drake starts the Magnificent Mile, a parade of store favorites both horizontally and vertically on Michigan Avenue. And people watching doesn't get any better in the Midwest.

Two days ago and yesterday, the weather set the city mood: the 60 and 70 degree temps in November were a call to get the last vestiges of warm air while the getting was good. Hibernation was stalled and people were in great spirits. People dined outside and many got the impetus to jump start their holiday shopping.

When my two daughters and I arrived, it was literally SRO in the infamous shoe department at Nordstrom's. And although there were easily over 100 people in the department for their semi-annual big sale, the energy level was high and infused with a genuine kind spirit.

I found that remarkable.

No grabbing. No bickering. No sighs. No babies crying. No "I-had-that-last-remaining-boot first." No Impatience. No negative emotion...anywhere. Smiles abounded. Wow. Everyone (sales representatives and customers) was on their best behavior.

I mused about the source of that: was it the Nordy employees that set the tenor of the department or was it the consumer eager to get a deal? The short answer is both.

I believe that the legacy of Nordstrom customer service is so well known, it rivals the fables of Grimm. People have recounted the story of the customer who was able to return (and get a refund) for tire chains to Nordstrom; Nordstrom doesn't sell tire chains. And just as Volvo cars are branded and are known for safety, Nordstrom's has the front runner on customer service as their distinguishing brand.

So perhaps the atmosphere in the department was created before the store even opened for the day? As customers, we bring a set of psychological expectations - conscious or unconscious - to the proverbial table, and those combined with the exceptional customer focus from Nordy employees, makes for a great experience.

Everyone brought their game to the Nordstrom shoe department. There were plenty employees and four different ones asked if we needed help. Heather, a very personable employee, remembered my daughter from this past summer.

Why don't we decide - consciously or unconsciously -to have this wonderful mindful experience with all of our work/life relations? Grab a pair of Nordy shoes and literally walk the talk:)

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