Nordstrom and Social Security offer key lesson for brands

The department store and the government agency have something in common: The way they treat their customers. But the lesson reaches beyond customer service.

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Just before leaving my apartment for my final day of college, I packed my car for the long drive from Tucson (I attended the University of Arizona) back to my family’s home in Maryland. I got in my car as soon as the class ended to begin my three-day drive.

My zeal to rush back to Maryland wasn’t because I hated college (although truthfully, I did), but because I couldn’t wait to begin applying for jobs as a radio disc jockey. Upon returning home, I was fortunate enough to get my break rather quickly when I was offered a job at a small lite rock station in Frederick, Maryland.

The only problem was that the station was only willing to offer me a weekend slot.

To earn money as I tried to get my radio career going, I applied for a job at Nordstrom—I needed some clothes and figured the employee discount would help. So when I read Dan and Chip Heath’s excellent marketing book “Made to Stick,” something they mentioned sounded familiar.

The Heaths told a story about Nordstrom’s employee orientation course. The premium retailer wanted to emphasize one point to all new employees, including me: The customer is always right.

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