All employers know that consistently stellar customer service is the holy grail of business. At times, it seems to be just within reach and, without so much as a minute’s notice, it appears completely unattainable.
I had the opportunity to travel to Chicago this week. Yes, I had a great steak dinner. And, yes, I had some deep dish pizza. I also shopped for a belt. A simple black dress belt. But this post is not about the belt. It’s about the place where I bought it–Nordstrom’s. How is it that Nordstrom’s consistently can offer good customer service when other companies cannot?
Three articles in today’s New York Times focus on the issue of customer service and are worth the read. The first article, titled Far From Always Being Right, the Customer Is on Hold, deals with the maddening devolution of telephone customer service.
The second article Shoe Seller’s Secret of Success focuses on Zappos.com almost fanatical emphasis on serving the customer. In fact, Zappos offers its newly trained employee $1,000 to quit as a way of testing their commitment to the company.
The third article focuses on the annual meeting of Southwest Airlines, a company whose customer service is legendary, and it’s beloved co-founder, Herbert D. Kelleher.
The series of articles reinforces the idea that customer service remains an unrequited desire for consumers across the country.
[Editor’s Note: Laurie Ruettimann, at Team Building Is for Suckers, posted yesterday about abandoning interviews in lieu of a “practice” day on the job. In the post, she discusses Zappos’ hiring strategy and concludes that it is an ideal model in many respects. The New York Times featured the fun-loving corporate culture of Southwest Airlines earlier this year in an article titled, “Southwest. Way Southwest.” The headline was followed by a picture of the airline’s chief executive, Gary Kelly, dressed as Edna Turnblad, the mom in Broadway musical, “Hairspray.” In the photo, Mr. Kelly is wearing a pink sequined dress and a bee-hive styled wig.]