10. Focus on the customer: Nordstrom
When mythic stories circulate about your company’s awesome customer service, you know you’re doing something right. That’s the hallmark of this upscale department store, which is rumored to have once graciously accepted the return of a set of tires, even though the store has never sold tires.
Nordstrom scored strongly among respondents for concern for the customer, as well as for the quality of the products in its nearly 230 stores. Attentive service–which includes a liberal return policy, e-mailing digital photos of new items to regular customers and sending thank-you notes after purchases–frees the Seattle-based retailer from having to focus on competitive pricing, which helps keeps profit margins higher.
“They don’t pretend to have the lowest prices, but they don’t have to,” Calkins says. “When people go there they know they may pay a little more, but the service is so good that it makes it worthwhile.”
Respondents criticized Nordstrom for not providing consumers with much information about its corporate decision-making policies, but Calkins contends that when building a brand identity, it’s OK for your proposition to focus on one principal element, as long as you do it right.
“What makes this brand tick is the service experience, not the approach,” he says. “Nordstrom has never focused on its company or its people; all of that positive energy is directed at the customer and the retail experience, and it’s the secret to their success.”