What is world-class customer service? Nordstrom, a Washington based retailer, offers a case study

Sep 30, 2021
Written by wpengine

In his recent blog Bob Phibbs, the ‘Retail Doctor’ examines world-class customer service. His simple definition makes a shopper feel like they are the most important person in the world.

What does it take to create world-class customer service in retail?

According to Phibbs, the recipe for world-class service is teaching sales associates how to relate to the customer, build rapport, listen, present additional options, limit choices to groups of three, add the element of surprise, and know the products inside and out. Phibbs says to enjoy the sales process, keep the energy going throughout the sale, and be comfortable upselling with more expensive or premium items.

Where do most retailers go wrong with their customer service?

Examples include associates expecting the customer to tell them what they want, pointing to where items are located rather than guiding and showings customers where to find them and being unfamiliar with products. Other examples include acting uncomfortable or shy when approaching customers, hiding from customers, or waiting to be asked questions rather than proactively engaging customers.

90% of customers don’t know what they want. If they did, they purchased it online.

Phibbs goes on to describe his recent experience while shopping for a jacket at a Nordstrom Men’s store and how it was a shining example of what world-class customer service should look like. The associate had a team to assist, run and observe the sale. They shared a personal story to form a connection with the customer. They knew the fit of the customer’s clothes and had them try on the outfit to feel comfortable with the purchase before leaving the store. They only suggested three items at a time to prevent overwhelming the customer, and they expressed genuine curiosity about the customer’s needs.

Phibbs said, “The art and science of engaging a stranger, of building rapport and making the sale are extinct from many retailers these days. It’s just an asked-and-answered world. The time has never been better for retailers to become brilliant on the basics.”

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