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Fri 08 Jul 2005
The Nordstrom of the Software Business?
Category : Commentary/nordstrom.txt
I don't know but when I first started my own company I had dreams of providing the best service, the most thoughtfully designed software, the best quality bug-free systems, and the most enthusiastic passionate support. But over a decade, these dreams have gone through quite a bit of wear and tear.
Providing consistently good service over any length of time, in spite of the vagaries of human nature - that's really hard to do. And I've developed quite a jaundiced eye when I cast my mind over the prospects.
So it's always been a wonder to me : how did companies like Nordstrom do it? How do you keep your optimism in the face of all these disenchantments?
I've read my share of Nordstrom books, always looking for an answer. Here's a little bit of a clue, as I was reading yet another Nordstrom book from Robert Spector - if you can grow your business to a certain size, you can then pay people to do it, i.e., provide excellent service on your behalf.
So, it's good to know that they were also human after all. That's one way to do it - split the responsibilities so that you can do what's right for the business and "delight the customer", and yet maintain enough detachment to get over any sense of dread or outrage, over any perceived injustice or unfairness (which is really not a good thing to harbour when you're in business).
So, this is what I have learnt : among the customers, there are the many and there are the few. The many are mostly good. Among these, the best are the ones who show their appreciation. They're the ones to slog our heart out for. They're why we're in business. And business is meant to be enjoyable.
And then there are the bad. But the good vastly outnumber the bad.
So just focus on the good. And try to be happy. Otherwise there is no other reason to be taking this route. Perhaps, one day, we'll get to reach our Nirvana?