A Nordstrom Lesson
Sept/Oct 2012
Peggy Smedley, Editorial Director

Those readers who have met me in person or have listened to any of a number of my talks know that I am very ebullient about this industry. Candidly, I am so passionate about the M2M (machine-to-machine) and connected-devices marketplace that I have been known to make a lengthy harangue about all its wonders to anyone willing to listen. But even I was truly put to the test by the folks at Cycle30 when the management team requested that I compile a two-hour presentation. Don’t get me wrong, at first blush I loved the idea of getting on my soapbox, but even I saw the challenge that lay ahead.

Let me say at the outset, I was not invited to put on a training session during my speaking engagement. Rather, they just wanted me to wow the audience with the trials and tribulations of M2M and connected devices. They wanted me to address what has occurred during the past decade and to examine where the market is headed during the next three-to-five years.

Now as those who have heard me speak are aware, I never give the same discourse twice. I like to write original talks. I might use pieces from my previous discussions here and there, but for each of my speeches I like to keep my audience engaged all the time with new material, which includes up-to-the-minute market data.

But here’s the kicker. I have never been asked to speak for such a long period of time. And what was even more overwhelming was I was following one of the authors of “The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence” (2012), Robert Spector. Now here’s a guy who gives a lot of workshops. Spector is one of those charismatic speakers who has this extraordinary ability to command the floor. But that was nothing compared to his remarkable knowledge of the inner workings of Nordstrom. After seeing him speak, I now understand why he is recognized worldwide as the absolute authority on customer service and “the Nordstrom way.”

Nordstrom is one of those mega retailers that has mastered the art of customer service from day one and continues to maintain that same strong spirit today. Spector’s insight into the lessons to be learned is so great that his half-day workshop helped me understand why Nordstrom had been known as the “Bloomingdale’s of the West in the ‘70s.”

And to this day, the retail giant still wants to “outservice, not outsmart.” As a result of these lessons learned, Jim Dunlap, president of Cycle30, has taken that philosophy to heart. Jim is one of those entrepreneurial self-starters who jumpstarted his career at Nordstrom after college.

Now, he has taken much of what he has garnered during his tenure at the retail giant and is positioning Cycle30 to be a strong player in the M2M arena. Cycle30 recognizes it can incorporate the lessons of Nordstrom as a true competitive differentiator and a developer of unparalleled customer loyalty—unmatched in the M2M arena—making it synonymous with one of the nation’s top retailers.

As the M2M space continues to grow, it’s nice to see a new up-and-comer with only 100 employees leverage the talents of a retail giant that has as many as 50,000 employees. Dunlap believes in everything he has learned at Nordstrom and works hard to empower his employees to make good decisions. It’s all about the customer.

As I see it, Cycle30 just might be positioning itself to lead the industry in many ways as it continues to use its hosted platform to provide a scalable billing solution for direct customers and OEMs.

Cycle30 has aligned itself with some pretty good M2M players that know a thing or two about M2M, such as Arrow Electronics, CrossBridge Solutions, Multi-Tech Systems, and Telit Wireless Solutions.

For Jim, that means delivering projects on time and even under budget to satisfy all his customers. And if that’s not enough, he stresses to his staff the importance of ensuring a seamless customer experience, while completing all deployments. His tenacity is clearly evident in everything he does. The more you get to know Mr. Dunlap, the more you just gotta love his “play hard, work hard, can-do attitude.”

The M2M journey still has a long way to go, but it’s also good to see a company stepping up to the plate and trying to make the market a better place for its customers and their M2M experience. Perhaps more M2M firms could learn a lesson or two from Cycle30, or should I really say Nordstrom?

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