Friday, June 20, 2008

A Lesson In Poor Customer Service

Nordstrom'sRight on the heels of some World Famous Pike Place Market service during my Seattle trip, I was quite taken aback by some poor service at Nordstrom's.

Nordstrom's has been known as the pinnacle of customer service in the retail industry for decades, so when my wife wanted to pop in to the store, I was all ears, looking to be blown away. You see, for many years, new employees were given a copy of the famous Nordstrom's Employee Handbook -- a single 5 x 8 inch grey card containing 75 words.
We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.
Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.
Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.
WOW! I couldn't wait to see Nordstrom's spectacular service.
My wife shopped around, and in short order found something to purchase. She had been given a Nordstrom gift card and was finally able to use it, since there were no stores in Canada. Unfortunately, while making a purchase using the gift card, the teller accidentally blanked out the balance on the card, and it was now reading as empty. The teller was not sure what happened, and we assumed there possibly was no actual amount on the card. We left the store disappointed the card did not work. As we went back to our hotel, I called the support 1-800 number on the back of the card and the customer service person assured me the money WAS on the card and had been debited to the store. So we now had no purchase, and they had our money.
This is where the service fell apart. The phone operator said I needed to go back to the store and explain the issue - she could not help me. I called the store and spoke to the manager who assured me they would look into it and call back the next day. 3 times people at Nordstrom called - once from the "Data Center" in Colorado - to let me know they were looking into it. After a day of wasted time and cell charges, the manager offered to mail me a new card in 5-7 days once they were sure the money cleared their system - whatever that meant.
Humm, how hard can this be? We just wanted our money back on the card, so we could spend it while we were in Seattle. I decided to stick to my guns, and after complaining to manager after manager, I finally reached someone who was able to make a decision. At this stage, I wanted cash back, and no more gift cards. The manager agreed, and asked us to come over to the store. We said we would be there at a certain time, but when we arrived... she was on a 1 hour lunch!
In the end, we received our cash from the gift card, and walked over to Banana Republic and spent it. Tough luck this time, Nordstrom. Time to take some customer service lessons from the small shops in Pike Place Market! (Read my June 19th entry below)