I bought a shirt on Twitter

I’m standing at the counter in Nordstrom’s when my iPhone beeps. The person ringing (do we even say that anymore) up my purchase says, “Hey, you got an iPhone?  I got an iPhone. What apps do you use?”

Anxious to be on my way and not wanting to get all that conversational I answer, “Mostly just Twitter,” figuring maybe that’ll end the conversation.

Instead he says, “Hey, I’m on Twitter. Ever use TwitPic?”

“Yes.”

“Great, if you want, I’ll TwitPic your favorite brand of shirts when they come in and DM them to you so you can get first pick.”

“Really?” (Now I’m less anxious to skedaddle.)

“Sure, follow me.  I’m @NordstromDave.”

We finish up the transaction and I leave figuring the worse that can happen is I get spammed a few times in which case I’ll just block @NordstromDave.  (You know how sales guys can be.)

Anyway, I forget all about @NordstromDave. But a couple of weeks later, as promised, he sends me a DM and a half a dozen pictures of perfectly presented Robert Graham shirts, the cuffs turned up and the collars open to reveal the piping.  One strikes my fancy. I DM back to Dave, confirm my size, along with my Amex number and 24 hours later there’s a box on my back porch – delivered overnight on Nordstroms’ dime I might add – with my new shirt.

Now this is customer service. I didn’t have to drive 20 minutes to the mall, didn’t have to look for a parking space, didn’t have to poke around a department store,

No doubt lots of brands and marketers are harnessing the power of their employees and leveraging the social tools available to us all.  Best Buy and Zappos, in fact, have practically institutionalized it.

But there are still companies asking whether or not to let their employees use social media at all during the workday. Instead they should be asking how to liberate their most socially savvy staff to engage with customers and clients or even leverage their own communities to spread positive news and drive traffic.

@NordstromDave is doing his thing on his own. I got the sense that Nordstrom has no idea he’s even doing it. But if they’re paying attention they’ll take the idea, turn it into a corporate program and free any and all of their sales staff to better serve customers, build up their own personal networks (OK, I admit that this is a potential downside as a sales person could attempt to bring customers with him when he leaves, though a well-thought out policy could prevent that), and be more valuable to the organization.

My guess is that lots of retailers will find the new technologies that automate push messaging that customers can opt in to.

But I think it’s even better the more personal you can actually make service. A socially inclined employee with a smart phone, a Twitter account and willingness to use it intelligently and respectfully is a pretty good place to start.

What’s your company doing to liberate its socially savvy employees?

Apparently I’m not the only one to be impressed by @NordstromDave. None other than David Meerman Scott, best-selling author, speaker, social media advocate, posted a piece on his experience with @NordstromDave just this week. In fact his post inspired me to put this one up once and for all. I’ve used it frequently in presentations but never got around to adding it here.

20 comments
portrait artist
portrait artist

Very cool post. Reading such material is a joy for the soul. I did not understand where can I buy a shirt ...

CarolWeinfeld
CarolWeinfeld

This is a great example of an employee demonstrating Nordstrom's excellent customer service and utilizing social media to engage the consumer.

@clweinfeld

rglasgow
rglasgow

Wow that's cool. DMing credit card info sounds risky tho. A DM-fail would be.. costly.

rtungett
rtungett

Kudos to that young man for being smart enough to get the sale from someone who didn't even know they wanted to make a purchase!

CopyCM1
CopyCM1

Dang. I wish my Talbot's sales lady would do that for me!

spaceheaterstudios
spaceheaterstudios

Wow, incredible story! What impressed me the most about this story is that Dave went out of his way to connect with you directly. Any employee can sell a shirt, but an employee who genuinely cares about the customer in the way Dave did is few and far between. There is a difference between just selling a product and genuinely wanting to deliver a quality experience and product to the customer in a way that is not pushy or "sales-y".

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

So lets see. Nordstrom's Dave is living the title of your blog Edward!

I don't think I will ever want to give up the shopping/discovery aspect of being in a store. And I doubt a store wants to dissuade me from coming in. BUT you have heard me hammer the ROI because of my sales/finance background. This is mega huge ROI. Imagine the dead time in the store. Espcially one like Nordstroms where customers tend to be upper income people. You have your workers act as personal shoppers for people they know want something and can afford to pay for it. So they technically are bringing people in/selling when it is the dead time in the store!

Nordstrom should not look at this as a paying so you can have a free personal shopper. They have to pay for the time they are on clock. Why not reaching outside the store to sell? I will thank @luckthelady for covering this in @adverve Awesome!

jakebohall
jakebohall

I love Nordstom... simply put, they have always impressed me with their customer service, even during the busiest times of the year. They are extremely helpful, as as your post shows... they know how to connect and make life easier for their customers.

Thanks!

MelindaWax
MelindaWax

Years ago if you had a small boutique or store OR if you were a commissioned sales person at a high end store like Bullock's Wilshire, Bergdorf Goodman you would keep track of the lines and products that your customers preferred and either call them or send them a handwritten note that something had come in which you thought would interest them. This kind of personalized service still existed when I first moved to NYC - in 1989 getting a handwritten note from the salesperson at Crate and Barrel who had helped me buy dining room furniture. The same for a Chanel make up salesperson at Henri Bendel. I don't see any difference except new tools. I imagine when the access is as quick as a digital tool there is the chance that it could get out of hand, but because most sales people don't think like the ad/marketing division of their store it's unlikely that nordstromdave will end up over using the access he has gained with Edward. Only time will tell and as you suggest Edward,we might have some say in that. Give the salesperson some credit that if they overdo and loose your business they will think twice about why, tweet you and you have the opportunity to enlighten them. I really like hearing that there is some personalization going on with digital tools in this way. Most of us hate going shopping because it feels so impersonal, like flying on an airplane now. Great to think that there is someone out there who wants to make a sale with someone he has identified as a sure-thing customer, you to have one of those great looking shirts within 24 hours and nordstromdave gets the sale. I would be curious to know if he works on commission or if there is any sales incentives for sales people at Nordstrom. Since they have always maintained a "service excellence" profile it doesn't surprise me that it was a Nordstrom's store where you are having this experience. Can you ask him if it was his idea or a sales idea from within? More research could be interesting.

weekstweets
weekstweets

Jeremy, I envy you. Yesterday, I actually had to go to the Nordstrom store and buy three shirts, two of which were not in stock in my size and are now being shipped to my house free of charge. Unfortunately, my sales guy is not @NordstromDave. My sales guy was John. No mention of apps or twitpics. I am wondering if @NordstromDave is making his endeavor solo, or if it is a program that Nordstrom half-implemented and that never got to John's store.

I am disappointed that I did not have a similar customer experience that could have saved me time in the future. That said, I will continue to shop at Nordstrom as I am loyal to their products and service.

tomcunniff
tomcunniff

This is awesome. But only until the retailer unavoidably crosses the thin line that separates "marketing as service" from "marketing as hassle".

There will come a day when -- despite his best efforts -- you will hate @NordstromDave the way you might hate being trapped in an elevator with a drunk who is just learning to play the bagpipes.

Also, with respect, I must disagree with David Ginsburg about this returning "big dividends". When we multiply customers receiving DMs and subtract staff cost from the ROI equation we will need an electron microscope to spot the dividend.

In short, it's hard to see where this sort of system (in its current, hey-let's-try-something form) turns into something that's good for the retailer and the customer.

When you scale 1-to-1 into something profitable, it becomes stalking.

davidginsburg
davidginsburg

Love this! What a great case study for the real-world implications of small tactics returning big dividends. Hope Nordstrom's encourages more staff to do the same, under a set of loose guidelines as suggested in the post. Nice shirt, btw.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@LFJeremy Will do. Willing to bet within a year or two, this will be standard behavior.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@MelindaWax You are dead on that these are just tools. But they make personal service even easier and less effort than that personal note. And for me, much better. I would rather the DM than a note. It's easier to store, keep track of and respond to. I know for a fact that the initiative is from Dave and not Nordstrom. Smart on his part. We actually had a conversation about how he should take his idea and attempt to institutionalize it -- teach others to use it and get the corporation interested. However, in an ideal world, a sales person would customize his use of tools to what a customer wanted. Some people might prefer email, texting or even Instagram.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@tomcunniff@nordstromdave I'm not sure that I agree. Or at least not in totality. Granted, in the hands of ad minded marketers who like to push (you should my email stream) this is a total annoyance. But Dave responded only as he said he would: sharing images of what I wanted him to share, in a timely manner, as a good account manager might do for any client. Social media and Twitter are only tools. But in the right hands, done the right way (based on a customer's preferences) they're incredibly valuable and far more efficient than direct mail, email, phone service, etc. Any good sales person in a high end (or just specialty -- wine, bicycle, etc) store might have 100--500 regular clients. Should be easy to service them this way.

tomcunniff
tomcunniff

@edwardboches @tomcunniff@nordstromdave Completely agree that these are just tools, and as such are only as good as the people who use them.

Unfortunately, marketers have a distressing habit of taking things that work, then pushing them until they begin to operate in reverse.

tomcunniff
tomcunniff

@edwardboches I do the best I can, as I'm sure you do. But to borrow a phrase from Albert Einstein, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" :-)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Edward Booches: …a couple of weeks later, as promised, he sends me a DM and a half a dozen pictures of perfectly presented Robert Graham shirts, the cuffs turned up and the collars open to reveal the piping.  One strikes my fancy. I DM back to Dave, confirm my size, along with my Amex number and 24 hours later there’s a box on my back porch – delivered overnight on Nordstrom’s dime I might add – with my new shirt. Now this is customer service. [...]