Most of you have heard the legendary story about how someone returned a set of tires to Nordstrom, which they took back no questions asked.   It’s part of their legacy for legendary service and taking care of the customer.

A few months ago, I went to pick up two pairs of suit pants that were needed for a business trip starting the following day.  After 20 minutes, he asked if they could deliver them to my home later that evening, so I left the store and headed back to my office.  Around 5 pm, I received a phone call from Justin, the now exasperated (and embarrassed) manager who said they have searched everywhere, cannot find the pants, and asked if I could come in by 6 pm to be fitted for two new suits to replace the items they lost.   It was the last thing I needed that day, but what choice did I really have?

 

I got there at 6 pm and several suits were already in place for me to try on.  The store manager came over and apologized profusely, giving me her card and asking me to have dinner at the café on her.  “But I have ten children and they’re all hungry,” I exclaimed (note:  I was kidding).   “That’s fine, bring ‘em all,” she replied without missing a beat.   I left the store a short while later with two beautiful suits in hand;  they did not charge me for these suits and Justin exclaimed, “this is on us.”

 

In one sense, I was blown away.  I didn’t ask for or expect to be treated this way.  Yet this is how I would have handled it if in their situation.  And it only served to reinforce to me what is called The Nordstrom Way.  I now had my own personal “can you believe what Nordstrom did” story.

 

My appreciation for how Justin handled this only got greater when I had two other weird mishaps in the next few weeks.   The Ritz Carlton nearest us in Half Moon Bay is known for their Mothers Day Brunch.  It’s a buffet meant for people who don’t ever go to buffets.  The food was great, but the service was terrible.   And the Ritz Carlton is known for their service.    The manager politely said he would take care of the problem, but it took almost a week to hear back from his boss and get it resolved.     And I won’t go into great detail about Best Buy and the effort it took to get a remote control replaced that was under warrantly.  It took three trips to the store, two visits from the Geek Squad, and over two weeks.

In the hyperfast world of today, how fast you respond to a situation matters just as much as responding in the first place.  The lesson here for each of us is simple.  When something goes wrong for the customer, don’t just fix it.  Fix it fast.

 

Handled well, a customer’s issue can bond them even more to you and your business.   Handled slowly, a customer’s issue can bubble up into a bunch of negative feelings that forever affect how they perceive your business.

 

PS.  Justin called several days later to tell me they had found the suit pants and asked when I could come by to pick them up.   “Now you have four suits, and we are again so sorry for the inconvenience.”    Where do you think I’ll be buying clothes from now on?

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