Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review -- Sharpening Customer Service Skills

The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence by Robert Spector and Patrick McCarthy is a helpful book on customer service skills.  Nordstrom’s primary goal each year is to improve its customer service.  The book elaborates on ways the company maintains its high caliber of customer service.  Knowing your product, learning about operations within the company, and seeking out mentors are three concepts relevant to the work of a prospect researcher.

Chapter 3 “Nurture the Nordie” provides insight that is applicable to development and fundraising.  “You can’t develop a relationship with a customer if you don’t know your product.”  This idea translates into the realm of prospect research when working with a development officer and understanding qualities about the donor or prospect.  The ability to learn and know how best to supply information to your assigned development officer strengthens the value of research you provide.

Another helpful point from the book is to learn about operations outside of your group.  “Top Nordstrom salespeople do not confine their product knowledge to their own department.  By learning about the products in other departments, they take advantage of a Nordstrom policy that empowers salespeople to sell anything in any department throughout the store.”  Knowing more about the operations of other areas of your institutions can improve your understanding your department’s role and purpose.  Consider how other groups within your department contribute to the overall goal of fundraising.  Are there processes that are similar to responsibilities of your group?  If so, are there ways you can learn from each other to make your contributions more efficient?

A final point to highlight is the importance of mentoring.  Mentors can be within your department or even outside of your company.  Early in the book, a salesman at Nordstrom sought out a mentor when he first started working at the department store.  He found a mentor in a co-worker that had worked at the company for many years.  He learned the importance of seeking out customers as opposed to waiting for customers to walk into the store.  His mentor would call customers to keep them informed of recent sales and events at Nordstrom.  A similar mindset applies to the realm of prospect research.  More and more development offices try and focus on being proactive rather than being reactive.  In our every day of research, it’s easy to get into patterns of always waiting for research requests.  Coordinating research with the needs of leadership and development officers ahead of time can make a difference.

The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence focuses on the corporate culture of the department store and offers ways to implement customer service skills at your own organization.
Melissa Sridaromont, Secretary, APRA MidSouth

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