Portrait of a Great Company: Nordstrom

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On October 25, 2011

Does corporate culture really matter to the success of your company? It does if your name is Nordstrom! At a time when consumers seem more price conscious than ever, Nordstrom competes with a different weapon. And at a time when Americans are increasingly abandoning the traditional mall experience (where most Nordstrom stores are located) for open-air “lifestyle centers,” the Nordstrom name continues to pull customers in.

Part of the reason that Nordstrom survives—and thrives—is because of their legendary customer service. Their stores are not merely a place to shop. They are an experience. Customers know they will be taken care of —exceptionally well. Customers expect it. They get it. And they tell others about it.

One story that has been repeated countless times describes a man who returned a set of used tired chains to Nordstrom—adamant that he had purchased them there (despite the receipt that clearly indicated that they had come from another store). The Nordstrom sales clerk cheerfully refunded the customer’s money (from her own pocket) and then—on her lunch hour—took the chains to the store where they had actually been purchased to get her refund.

Did Nordstrom make any money on that transaction? No, but the marketing and word-of-mouth value they received is inestimable. And Nordstrom’s history is peppered with similar stories. It’s not that Nordstrom has such a great returns policy. It’s that Nordstrom has a great corporate culture that’s built around people. Nordstrom says that their people and their enthusiasm for service make all the difference. Here’s how they describe their culture:

We’re family.
Nordstrom began as a family business and while we’re now publicly traded, the Nordstrom family is still actively involved in the business. We continue to cherish our shared experiences, celebrate our achievements and appreciate one another — just like family.
Use good judgment.
We trust each other’s integrity and ability. Our only rule: Use good judgment in all situations.
Be empowered.
Want to go above and beyond for a customer? Make a suggestion? Try something new? We want you to take the initiative, and we’ll support your efforts to deliver exceptional service.
Setting goals matters.
And we set ours high. At Nordstrom, you can determine your own success and make a real difference by accomplishing the goals you set.
It’s your business.
Our employees have a personal, financial and professional stake in the success of our company. Here, you’re encouraged to take ownership of your career.
Healthy competition is good.
We love to win. If you thrive in a high-energy, competitive team environment, you’ll love it here.
Be honest.
We value open, honest and respectful communication.
Be recognized.
We value people who drive results, and we regularly recognize outstanding performance — whether you’re serving customers or supporting those who do.
Be a good neighbor.
Our company and our employees support hundreds of community organizations through contributions, outreach programs, special events and volunteering their time.
Be kind.
We still believe the golden rule has a lot of merit: Treat others as you’d like to be treated. We work hard to offer great service to each and every customer and we believe great service begins with showing courtesy to everyone, customers and coworkers alike.
Have fun.
Fashion is one of the truest forms of self-expression. It’s creative and colorful and totally limitless. If you’re passionate about fashion, this is the place for you.
Our door is always open.
Have an idea? Want to talk? If it’s important to you, we’re listening. It’s important to us that every person who works here feels valued, welcome and cared for. And if you’ve got a great idea, we want to hear about it.

These are some of the reasons Nordstrom employees think it’s a great place to work. And these are also some of the reasons their customers think it’s a great place to shop. Does your corporate culture make your company a great place to do business?