Friday, December 10, 2010

Nordy’s: Leveraging Creativity So the Shoe Fits!

December 10, 2010

The above photo is from the semiannual Nordstrom’s sale last month in Chicago. At first blush, it would appear that it was chaotic, but it was nothing of the kind. It was as mindful and spa-like as being at a happy retreat. I believe this experience was because Nordstrom’s has one employee face: happy, gentle, kind, and compassionate.

“Shoe dog.” That is what dear family friend Ginny told me over Thanksgiving weekend that her management team from 20+ years ago used to call the new hires who work in the shoe department at Nordstrom's. What does a show dog do? A Nordstrom personnel who works in the shoe department will gently offer to bring you some shoes that you have selected, yet he/she does not bring the one pair; he or she brings three pairs. In the same vein, the behemoth, Amazon, offers a like-mindedness when you purchase an online product: “If you like this, then you might also like this…” Not only did it work 26 years ago, it still works today.

Ginny shared the story of her teenage son, who many years back, worked as a shoe dog (the proverbial bottom of the Nordstrom’s food chain) and served a customer who wanted a pair of shoes in a size 7 and the same pair in an 8 ½. So of course, he had to strategically balance 6 pairs of shoes on his way back to the customer from the storage room. She selected two pair from his choices: two pair in the size 7 and two identical pair in the size 8 ½.

The young teen inquired if she were buying a pair for herself and someone else. The woman explained that the 4 pair were for herself, that her feet are not even close to be the same size. The teenager excused himself momentarily and spoke with his supervisor and shared what the customer had explained to him. He quickly returned to say that she would only need to buy 2 pair of shoes and he took one 7 and one 8 ½ from each box and rang up her sale. She was stunned and said that no other shoe department had: 1) ever even asked why she was buying two pair of shoes, or 2) considered offering her one shoe from each separate box.

The customer tried to decline what she thought was too big a money loss and too generous a deed. She asked, “What will you do with one shoe?” The young teen said it was no problem. Nordstrom's often will donate single shoes to organizations for the disabled.

Marketers will annually spend millions of dollars to promote their company’s brand. Nordstrom's and customer service are synonymous. They have this trusted reputation because they have never strayed from their mission. Their emphasis on the customer is such a well-oiled machine that their marketing plan really includes you and me. Solution-seeking with their brand identity in mind: “How do we remain completely customer-oriented and not lose our shirts when we gladly refund a tire chain purchase (we do not sell tire chains) and shoes that don’t match?” We use creative solution-seeking and market the heck out it.

And it works; the shoe fits.

Mindfully Yours,


What can we do this week to be a Nordy to all with whom we engage?

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