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Nordstrom Unlocked The Doors

This is not a blog about shopping. This is a blog about removing roadblocks.

This past weekend, I needed to restock on a few things, so I headed to my local mall. Even though I went into Nordstrom only to purchase their special liquid laundry soap, I couldn’t resist taking a stroll around the store. And as you might have guessed, that little stroll ended up with me finding a few things to try on.

I have been a Nordstrom shopper since the company opened its first stores in southern California over 30 years ago. I know that in order to get access to a dressing room, you need to find a sales associate, as the dressing rooms are locked. Only the sales associates have the keys.

So, you can imagine my shock when the sales associate told me that the dressing room doors were all open, so pick whichever room I wanted!

When I went to purchase my items at the cash register, I asked the cashier, “So, when did Nordstrom unlock the dressing room doors?”

She told me that they got a new store manager about four months ago (the previous manager went on maternity leave), and the first thing the new manager did was tell the sales associates to unlock the dressing room doors.

Even though the locking practice had come into being to reduce theft, it also helped engage the salespeople with shoppers by personally escorting them to the dressing rooms. The new manager realized that it actually had become a huge inconvenience for shoppers. It interfered with their ease of shopping. And I’m guessing, she realized that it was not sending a positive message in alignment with the Nordstrom brand.

So, I asked the obvious question of the cashier, “Did theft go up after you unlocked the doors?” She told me she had not heard anything more about it, so she assumed it had not.

That made me wonder: How many “locked dressing room doors” do you have in your business? If you have an automated voicemail for your business, do you start your message with, “To speak with someone immediately, press “0” for operator,” then proceed with the directory of names? Or do you force callers to go through the directory by entering the first three letters of the person’s first or last name?

On your website, do you feature your best selling items on your home page? Or do you force customers to search through your entire website to find what they’re looking for?

When you have a visitor to your building, do you immediately offer them water or directions to the restroom? Or do you wait for them to ask?

When you give new employees your company handbook, do you give them a cheat sheet of the FAQs (such as company holidays, benefits info and payroll info)? Or do you hand them the 100-page handbook and say, “Good luck! Everything is in here.”

How many roadblocks do we naturally put up in our businesses? And if we replaced them with something easier and more convenient, would we have a better result?

If you want to “unlock the doors” in your company, know that most of them are super easy to change. The challenge may be that they are habits, with unknown origins, e.g., “We’ve always done it that way.”

It took only a bit of adjustment at our company to change our company voicemail, website, visitor-welcoming process and employee handbook.

What should you change?


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