A little while back, my wife was shopping in Nordstrom. To me, it’s not much more than a department store. Sure, they have a nice selection of items, and you pay a price premium for them. But that’s not the only reason, and thus the subject of this post.
My wife was helped around the store in a low-/no-pressure environment. She paid and left the store, and she showed me what she bought. So far, this is a typical experience for her (minus the part where she actually received good, no-pressure customer service).
About a week later, she received a 3″x5″-ish card in the mail. It was from Nordstrom. Perplexed, I watched her open it. It was a thank-you note. Yes. A thank you note – handwritten! I’ve heard of car dealerships sending a thank-you note after a purchase (or even before! how garish), but from a department store? I rolled my eyes, in the sense that they’ve got her hook, line, and sinker. The truth is, they already did. And the deeper truth is, they had me. To go out of their way to send a thank you note? That’s unheard of nowadays. Sure, they might send notes to all customers who spend more than $x in one visit. But to make it standard protocol to actually follow through and do this is simply fantastic.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. My wife is looking to buy a pair of Uggz for our niece. Uggz are fairly price-fixed like iPods and some other items, so there’s not much point in comparison shopping from one place to another. So where does she go? Nordstrom. Why not? She’s already received great customer service. She went and bought the boots, and once again, she was met with fantastic, peerless customer service. About two days later, there’s another 3″x5″ card in the mail, again from Nordstrom. She opens it, and this time it’s a note from someone in the shoe department. It addresses my wife by her first name, and it alludes to a shoe sale that has started and its expiration date. Again, it’s handwritten.
One the one hand, I might feel duped, since they used the first note as a Trojan horse of sorts, using it to woo us into fine customer service, and then bam – hitting us with an advertisement. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as a customer returning to a store after a great shopping experience, a store tracking that return visit (we pretty much always pay with credit cards, so any good CRM system can catch this), and then capitalizing on that. And even though it’s an advertisement, it didn’t at all seem assaulting. There wasn’t a coupon or anything. It was simply a, “Hey, I thought you might want to know…” note.
Nordstrom, in the process, has hooked two shoppers for life, all at the cost of 10 minutes of time and $0.84 in postage. This is the price of customer service and customer intimacy.
(image courtesy of http://www.coylehospitality.com/mystery-shopping/hotel-customer-service.asp)