Gift Giving At Its Worst-Best

A colleague shared quite an interesting story with me this week about giving a gift to his seventy-five year old mother for her birthday. He had spent some time searching for the perfect gift and finally found it at Nordstrom’s. He had set the perfect plan that fit neatly into his busy schedule. The birthday dinner was at 7:30pm. He would leave the office at the exact time to allow him to stop by Nordstrom’s, pick up the wrapped gift (that he had purchased online) and make it to the restaurant on time. Everything started out well, however when he arrived at Nordstrom’s, his gift was not ready. Not like the Nordstrom’s we all know. Listening to the story, I was in disbelief as this is a company known for exceptional service. And not only was his gift not ready, they didn’t even have the purse he had purchased online, in the store. The staff explained that there had been a glitch with the online service.

I considered to myself whether this would be the first story about bad service at Nordstrom’s that I would hear. Then my colleague proceeded. After apologizing, the staff assured him they would immediately start to look for the purse, not only at other Nordstrom’s but at any other retailer – anywhere they could find it, and to please give them a few moments. Within a short amount of time, one of the staff (and there were a few on the case), found the purse about fifty miles away. They made arrangements for someone to personally drive over, pick up the purse and hand-deliver it (fully wrapped) to my colleague at the restaurant before the end of the meal.

If this isn’t a brandful workforce, what is? I talk about companies having a customer promise that employees can deliver, as being critical to the foundation for building a brandful workforce. This situation made it extremely difficult for the employees to deliver exceptional service, however they never gave up, and they were able to deliver on the company promise, at least in the mind of my colleague.

As we approach the gift-giving season, I’m sure some of us will experience customer service without such happy endings, however I’d like to encourage you to send me your positive stories as they do inspire others and provide the examples necessary to help build  win-win situations for customers and employees during the holidays. The days ahead truly represent opportunities to connect consumers, brands and employees meaningfully.

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