After a couple years in recruiting I started having financial successes. My manager at the time was a big fan of companies that were superior in service. He took me out with him one weekend because “you need some adult clothes kid”. It was the first time I had the pleasure of shopping at Nordstrom. Not a regular thing for me. I was not accustomed to such products or stores but I had read and even more importantly heard about their customer service. Customer Service that is simple and of the highest standard. For example, the Nordstrom Employee Handbook:

“Welcome to Nordstrom. 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 best judgement 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. “

Marti Wikstrom, a Nordstrom executive has said, “Someone once asked me, ’Do you think Nordstrom employees are exceptional or do you think they are in an atmosphere where they are expected to be exceptional so they are?’ I don’t know. I think we have some exceptional people and I think we have some average people who work at an exceptional level. And given another set of circumstances, perhaps they would not.
At Nordstrom, they work at an exceptional level because they are supported by the culture.”

The best salespeople are entrepreneurial self-starters. Nordstrom gives people the freedom to do whatever it takes to make the customer happy (as long as it’s legal).

If you boil the Nordstrom system down to its essence, it’s that Nordstrom gives the peple on the sales floor the freedom to make decisions—and management supports them in those decisions.

Sales people, who are paid on commission, are judged on their performance, not their obedience to orders. Individual creativity is a by-product of freedom. Working at Nordstrom is not for everybody. Workers are sorted out by a natural selection process where only the fittest survive. The company has very high expectations. If you don’t meet them, you’re gone.

Nordstrom has enjoyed a long stretch of success with this simple rule. And the simplicity is what I like about it. It empowers employees to be smart and accountable to themselves as well as demands that the service provided to the customer is what is paramount. My experience that day was almost intimidating. Everyone that worked in the store seemed to love their job, want to succeed at their work, and of course make certain that every single customer was treated with the highest regard. I walked out a little lighter in cash but didn’t notice. It didn’t really matter. My experience was so excellent that I enjoyed spending the money. They earned it. Deserved it. Fee earned.

I read about and talk with many excellent recruiters each day who exemplify this service orientated trait. These same recruiters are successful, in work and in life. Styles may vary, but the service is always there. And what does this do for our recruiting business? It makes fees easier for customers to accept, and pay. It spreads your reputation by word of mouth, still the most valuable social media marketing available. And it give the recruiting industry as a whole the good reputation it enjoys. When given the task of training new recruiters, many with loads of experience in other arena’s, I like to preach the concept like this: “Good Service is your respect” I tell them. “The respect you have for the customer, and for yourself”.

To read more about Nordstrom check out Robert Spector’s “The Nordstrom Way”

By Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.