Although our business was growing at a healthy rate in the seventies, the third
generation of Nordstroms to run the business was concerned. We worried that we might have become enamored of our own success and, as a result, have lost some of the company’s fabled devotion to serving
customers. At an annual all-company management meeting, we agreed that we would focus on our concern that we had become soft on service. We would emphasize one goal—to dramatically improve customer
service at Nordstrom in the coming year and to do whatever was necessary to achieve that goal.
In attendance was the most junior manager in the entire company. She had been appointed to her
position just days before. She ran the newest department in a corner of our oldest, smallest store with no staff and a couple of old fixtures. Her job was to build the department by selling the
merchandise herself and by enlisting the help of salespeople from adjacent departments. In the four months she had been with us as a salesperson, she had already caught the excitement of delighting
customers. Now we were telling her that success as a manager meant going all out doing what she already enjoyed.
This neophyte manager, who had originally come to Nordstrom for two years to put her husband through
school, was Betsy Sanders. She stayed with us for nineteen years and took our call to service as seriously as anyone we have ever known. We recognized her leadership gifts early on and kept offering
her greater challenges. She met each one, always exceeding our expectations by growing in her ability to take care of the customer. In that first management job, she hit on the key to leading service: to
serve the people who worked directly with the customers. She never forgot this as she went from managing our smallest department to building our largest region.
When praised for her accomplishments, Betsy claims that she simply has dedicated her life to
imparting the message she took away from that meeting so long ago: Do whatever it takes to delight and serve the customer. We are pleased that she believes this. She has exemplified in her own life what
we like to think of as Nordstrom service. Even more significantly, she led thousands of our employees to do the same. At Nordstrom, Betsy dedicated herself to bringing out in others their gifts to lead
service in ways and to levels they have perhaps never envisioned. Now, she shares this dedication with you. We know of no other person better equipped than Betsy Sanders to inspire you and to lead you to
make that commitment to fabled service.