Dominate Your Market

I have just finished reading The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence. If you haven’t read it yet you really should. This book is an inspiring story of retail at its finest. A little bit of the history of the company is chronicled, but most of the book describes the organizational culture of Nordstrom. 

The company went public in 1971, but the Nordstrom family has been heavily involved in preserving the culture of the founders ever since the beginning. 

One of my favorite things about Nordstrom is their fantastic approach to customer service. The employee handbook is a 5 ½ inch by 7 ½ inch card. On one side of the card it says the following:  “Welcome to Nordstrom. We’re glad you’re here! Our number one goal is to provide outstanding service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them, so our employee handbook is very simple. We have only one rule:”

When you flip the card over you see the rule. The rule is, “Use good judgment in all situations.” That’s it. To prove they are serious about this rule Nordstrom has no written return policy. Team members are simply asked to use their best judgment to take care of the customer given the circumstances of each situation. There are many legendary stories at Nordstrom that are told throughout the book of employees going above and beyond to take care of their customers.          

The way Nordstrom approaches customer service made me think about the way our industry has traditionally handled things like scratch warranties. It has been suggested recently in an optical discussion forum that we need to consider warranties that cover “life” situations. These would include things like scratched lenses from glasses that have been dropped in the parking lot. Big players in our industry like Maui Jim are beginning to cover scratched lenses from such situations. This may be the new normal.   

It is time we raise the bar. I’m sure most readers are familiar with the Golden Rule. If you are then you know that it says to treat others how you would want to be treated. This is certainly a good start to customer service, but there happens to be a better rule. It is called the Platinum Rule. The platinum rule says to treat people how they want to be treated. Following the Platinum Rule will pay much bigger dividends to you down the road. 

If we really want to dominate our respective markets we need to provide three key things to our customers and patients. These are: Superior Optical Knowledge, The Platinum Rule, and the Right Selection of Eyewear. 

We need to demonstrate optical knowledge of our craft befitting of a world class professional. We need to provide outstanding customer service with a friendly ‘can do’ attitude by using our best judgment in all situations, rather than hiding behind company policies. Just remember to follow the Platinum Rule here. And lastly we need to understand our customer. We need to make sure we know what they want, and that we have the selection to satisfy their tastes. When all of this is combined with a world-class optical staff you will have a buying experience like no one else in your market.