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Consumer Trends

Five minutes with Nordstrom’s Vice President of Customer Experience

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Since hearing Pat Ogawa speak at’s Annual Summit last year, I’ve been following innovation at Nordstrom quite closely. It’s been refreshing to see the historic brand, known for its in-store customer experience, thrive both online and off while bringing digital to the physical store experience (I’m sure you remember the coverage of their Pinterest initiative). And while it may be a top buzzword this year, innovation — beyond making Nordstrom a compelling place to shop — also makes it an exciting place to work. From the introduction of an Innovation Lab and Customer Experience Center to a full-blown tech talent recruitment plan, it’s clear that the Nordstrom leadership team recognizes that great ideas come from all types of employees in any area of the company — and value their contributions on how the brand can continually improve the customer experience.

Nordstrom Vice President of Customer Experience Fanya Chandler

In conjunction with the release of our This is Retail behind-the-scenes look at Nordstrom’s Customer Experience Center, we asked Fanya Chandler, vice president of customer experience, a few questions about what she’s learned from recent initiatives, what success looks like as they try new concepts and what her team will be dreaming up next.

Tell us about your career in retail. How did you clinch the title of Nordstrom’s customer experience guru?

I wouldn’t call myself a guru. I would call myself fortunate to have spent the last 22 years in roles — from selling to managing stores to supporting our Personal Stylist program — that allowed me to be close to our customers and reinforce the importance of staying connected to how they define service.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned about customer preferences and behavior through your time at the Customer Experience Center?

More important than any surprises is the invaluable feedback we get when we bring our customers and salespeople through the CEC. Every time they weigh in on a new concept, it reminds us how much customers expect to be able to shop on their own terms, and how differently each of them defines service.

As you bring these concepts to market, what does success look like?

Happy customers who tell their friends about Nordstrom and return to shop with us!

Can you give us a sneak peek into what your team is dreaming up next?

We’re fascinated by how activewear has gone beyond simply being a product to being a lifestyle. We want to provide an activewear shopping environment that speaks to customers on a whole new level.

Why do you think that innovative ideas brought to fruition at Nordstrom are particularly successful?

Experience is the driver of whether or not an idea is successful, because an experience is really a feeling. We want that feeling to be good, and if the feeling is bad, we want to fix it. The whole point of innovation and the CEC is testing the experience we’re creating and learning about the feeling it inspires.

In three words, describe the perfect Nordstrom customer experience.

The perfect experience makes the customer:

… feel great

… feel smart

… feel like coming back!