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The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: The Handbook For Becoming the "nordstrom" of Your Industry, Second Edition by Patrick McCarthy, Robert Spector

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Chapter 4

Empower Entrepreneurs to Own the Customer Experience

We’ve never tried to solve a customer service challenge from a meeting room at headquarters or through training modules and policies. We’ve always done it through empowerment—and that’s the only way we’re going to meet the challenge today.

—Erik Nordstrom

If you boil the Nordstrom system down to its essence, down to the one sentence that separates Nordstrom from most other companies, it is this: Nordstrom gives its people on the sales floor—the front line of the business—the freedom to make entrepreneurial decisions, and management backs them on those decisions. Everything else flows from that simple premise.

That’s called empowerment. In most businesses, it’s a cliché. At Nordstrom, it’s a reality.

“We believe in empowering people as close to the customer as we can, in order for those people to bring an entrepreneurial, proprietary attitude to their business,” said Bruce. “You have to be confident enough in your system and your people to take your hands off and allow business to work.”

Geevy Thomas, president of the Rack division, has said, “There are three groups of people with respect to empowerment: Those who get it. Those who really want to get it. Those who probably will never get it.”

Nordstrom has no official mission statement or value statement. Blake said, “It’s clear throughout our organization that our people are empowered to use their energy and their entrepreneurial spirit to take care of the customer.” ...

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