After years of watching black and white movies depicting corporate moguls banging on their desks demanding that their employees “tow the line”, I have a preconceived notion of the corporate message. As I walk the streets of Manhattan, I often look up and imagine a secret group of spin masters hiding in a corprorate bunker on the top floor conspiring how to integrate their message across the internal sound systems embedded in the showrooms below - sell, sell, sell…
 
At this point it is rather clear that Nordstrom is obsessed with customer service but the question is how Nordstrom’s translates this corporate agenda to its employees without demeaning their role in the cause. In reading Chapter five in our textbook, Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications by Paul Argenti, today’s corporations must open the lines of communication between one’s employees and employers – the top-down approach is a dinosaur of the past, no longer in black and white. 
 
According to Matt Gonring, a consultant with Gagen MacDonald, “corporate communications is a dynamic two-way process that is recognized by senior management.” Nordstrom ran into snag in 1990 when it was discovered that employees were not treated at the same level as their precious customers and were often underpaid and overworked
– quickly the new generation of Nordstrom management rewrote the culture to a more  two-way personal line of communication and a power-sharing agreement was established. Management handed out their email addresses and cell numbers hoping  to incubate the one-company philosophy – all for one and one for all. 
  
Nordstrom’s has two official blogs, http://blogs.nordstrom.com/ titled The  Thread and NYFW. Both are written to the customer for the customer. In fact, I  was side tracked in getting on task with my homework by today’s blog – “Gifts  for him under $100 dollars”. Forty five minutes later, back on track, after  finding the perfect gift for my nephew I found www.glassdoor.com, a free career website which allows employees to anonymously write about their employers. Nordstrom features 695 postings and an overall rating of “satisfactory.” Unlike the “7 Tips for Employee bloggers” listed in our textbook, these posting seem to be a free for all and really anyone can say they are an employee. These websites stage a platform for a small a flock of Macy mice, Sak’s snakes and Neiman Marcus gnats all chirping against my beloved Nordies, appalling!!! 
 
 
Blogs written by actual Nordstrom employees for their customers would be fun to read. Maybe saying why they enjoy providing such high-end customer service. Maybe some fun stories about their different customers and their craziest requests. Nordstrom’s spotlights its employees on their corporate web site pages but 99% of what corporate is putting out there regarding its employees is related to community service, environmental citizenship and human rights. An internal blog, which may  exist on an intranet, spotlighting employee’s customer service challenges and  achievements would be inspiring. According to Mike Wing, vice president of worldwide intranet strategy and programs for IBM “corporate interaction is neither top-down, nor bottom-up; it’s horizontal”. The blog should be written by  all levels of the corporation from their perspectives – the trick is to make sure that it doesn’t become a complaint box. 
 
Nordstrom does not have one stand out spokesperson. The Nordstrom men, those Nordic hunks, seem to be the face of the company although they live in the background as any good parent would.  As descendants of the founder, 
they still emulate the American dream, Swedish immigrants coming over to find gold and ultimately discovering it – in shoes, gold Louboutin shoes. 
  
So corporate communications are no longer innies or outies, they are inbetweenie.

 


Comments

A Nordstrom employee
10/14/2013 9:25pm

As a Nordstrom manager, I will make it very clear- Nordstrom managers and employees alike are over worked and underpaid. As an employee at a full line nordstrom (versus a Nordstrom rack store), you are given sales goals, based off of a calculated average hourly "sph" or sales per hour which is nearly impossible to achieve with the lenient return philosophy under which old and even worn merchandise is returned, often by cheapskates who use the merchandise for one occasion (or evemultiple occasions- like with boots that have been worn for a whole season. These returns go against our sales goals, and come out of our commissions. Meaning that it is technically possible for an employee to end up OWING Nordstrom money, though this generally just results in te employee receiving a check for their base pay (employees are paid hourly AGAINST commission, not in addition to). In desperate attempts to make hourly goals, employees cut their hours (or are sent home early) when business is slow in order to preserve their numbers. However, his just means tht employees end up collecting their base hourly rates (around 10) for as little as 20 hour-- I was a full time employee and the top rank in my schedule and still walked with paychecks of $400 for two weeks on a somewhat regular basis. In CA where I live, $400 couldn't even rent a small studio apartment. Expected to work hours ranging from 7-10 on a regular basis, and far later at night for the months of November and December, the work-life balance nordstrom claims to promote is a farce.

Now, after working as an assistant manager and now a manager at a Nordstrom rack store, I see employees overworked regularly. They are paid a higher base than full line employees since commission is not available, but are given short shifts an many days off to ensure they stay below the 32 hr threshold for full time employment benefits. When they are at work, they are worked hard and while told they must take breaks, are often reprimanded when certain tasks are left undone. However, management at the rack store is the most over worked of all. Assistants more than te rest. Assistants are pretty much given all the same responsibility as the managers, including makin schedules and having manager in charge of the store shifts in which they must deal with fraudulent returns an difficult customer issues. However, they are often paid nearly the same as employees $12-14$/hour for employees), as low as $14 dollars an hour for assistants. Wh not to go over their 40 hours a week As a Nordstrom manager, I will make it very clear- Nordstrom managers and employees alike are over worked and underpaid. As an employee at a full line nordstrom (versus a Nordstrom rack store), you are given sales goals, based off of a calculated average hourly "sph" or sales per hour which is nearly impossible to achieve with the lenient return philosophy under which old and even worn merchandise is returned, often by cheapskates who use the merchandise for one occasion (or evemultiple occasions- like with boots that have been worn for a whole season. These returns go against our sales goals, and come out of our commissions. Meaning that it is technically possible for an employee to end up OWING Nordstrom money, though this generally just results in te employee receiving a check for their base pay (employees are paid hourly AGAINST commission, not in addition to). In desperate attempts to make hourly goals, employees cut their hours (or are sent home early) when business is slow in order to preserve their numbers. However, his just means tht employees end up collecting their base hourly rates (around 10) for as little as 20 hour-- I was a full time employee and the top rank in my schedule and still walked with paychecks of $400 for two weeks on a somewhat regular basis. In CA where I live, $400 couldn't even rent a small studio apartment. Expected to work hours ranging from 7-10 on a regular basis, and far later at night for the months of November and December, the work-life balance nordstrom claims to promote is a farce.

Now, after working as an assistant manager and now a manager at a Nordstrom rack store, I see employees overworked regularly. They are paid a higher base than full line employees since commission is not available, but are given short shifts an many days off to ensure they stay below the 32 hr threshold for full time employment benefits. When they are at work, they are worked hard and while told they must take breaks, are often reprimanded when certain tasks are left undone. However, management at the rack store is the most over worked of all. Assistants more than te rest. Assistants are pretty much given all the same responsibility as the managers, including makin schedules and having manager in charge of the store shifts in which they must deal with fraudulent returns an difficult customer issues. However, they are often paid nearly the same as employees $12-14$/hour for employees), as low as $14 do

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