We took a walk this evening through the newly renovated Santa Monica Place mall here in LA. It had been many years since I had been to either Bloomingdale’s or Nordstom. The mall had both, so I decided to investigate.
Our first stop was Bloomingdale’s. Yikes. If the Santa Monica store is indicative of the chain, customer service isn’t a big priority for them. We wandered around, picked things up, turned them over, talked about them – without any fear of an employee even saying ‘hello.’
My wife was particularly interested in a pair of shoes. Both of us expected that one of the three employees who were talking with each other might make eye contact and come over. No luck. We were left with the option of leaving, or begging for some service. We chose the former.
Nordstrom was better – which was reassuring given their reputation. A couple of people actually made a point to say hello – although neither of them reallywanted to stop to see if they might be of assistance. I was a bit disappointed, because it was the legendary Nordstroms, but not surprised, because it was a Department store – and department stores globally seem incapable of understanding customer service.
I wonder when one of the CEOs of one of the department store chains will have the courage to take one of their stores and try an experiment to reinvent them. It needs to happen, because the industry segment is dying the death of a thousand cuts. They don’t need to be tweaked or face-lifted. They need to be transformed into a brand-new entity that is customer-focused and agile. Sadly,the senior executives and shareholders in these companies are more comfortable in riding their jobs and companiesinto the dimming sunset, than taking the risks that come with innovation.