Neiman Marcus is a premier luxury retailer with distinctive merchandise and superior service. They opened in Dallas, Texas in 1908. Since 1908, Neiman Marcus has opened 40 additional stores. In 2010, the current count is 41 retail stores and 28 clearance centers called Last Call Neiman Marcus. As you can see from the chart, Neiman Marcus sells very diverse items. The largest category is women’s apparel, followed by women’s shoes, handbags and accessories, men’s apparel and shoes, cosmetics and fragrances, designer and precious jewelry, home furnishings and decor and the smallest category is other items.
Neiman Marcus’s Mission Statement: “Neiman Marcus Stores will be the premier luxury retailer recognized for merchandise leadership and superior customer service. We will offer the finest fashion and quality products in an exceptional environment. " For the fiscal year 2010, Neiman Marcus had strong sales numbers. The total sales in the first quarter included the months of August, September, and October. The total sales were $ 869 million. The second quarter included the months of November, December, and January.
The total sales were $ 1,102 million. The third quarter included the months February, March, and April. The total sales in the third quarter were $ 895 million. These figures include all 41 retail stores and the Neiman Marcus on-line website. According to the latest annual report from the U. S. Census Bureau the total amount of sales for the U. S. retail industry was $ 4. 13 trillion. This report comes from the calendar year ending in December 2009. Neiman Marcus has three top competitors.
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They are Barneys New York, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Even though there are many other luxury retailers, only the three listed above can compete with Neiman Marcus’s customer service and diversity of products. Code of Ethics The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc. placed a Code of Ethics and Conduct to all its sales associates. The following are only a few examples of the policies that were placed. Protecting Customer Information When it comes to customer information, Neiman Marcus is dedicated to protect their customer’s confidential information.
The company places the responsibility of protecting customer information to each sales associate that comes in contact with that information. Not only is certain information protected by state and federal laws, it is also protected by the company’s own data security policies. Sales associates are prohibited from using a client’s personal information on personal PDA’s or any personal computer for future reference. Conflicts Of Interest Neiman Marcus’s Code of Ethics and Conduct describes situations in which sales associates should avoid.
According to the Code of Conduct, associates should avoid any situations that their personal interests could conflict to those of the company. The sales associate should avoid lending money to its customers for them to buy from the company nor should he or she use the company’s information or a customer’s confidential information for personal gain. It is also stated that the “associates should not accept any gifts”. These rules are made to avoid any unethical transactions between its associates and its customers or other parties.
Discipline For Violations Neiman Marcus has disciplinary guidelines for sales associates who authorize, condone, or participate in actions that violate not only the company’s policies but the law. This also applies to sales associates who encourage others to retaliate against whistleblowers. Sales associates who withhold information relating to a violation are also at risk of disciplinary action. Sales associates who also submit false reports of violations or suspected violations which are made in bad faith will also receive disciplinary action.
Neiman Marcus also prohibits sales associates to share employee discounts. Because the company regards the employee discount as a courtesy and privilege extended to the employee, if discovered, sales associates can have their benefit revoked or be terminated. Recruiting and Selecting Part of how Neiman Marcus selects its sales force is through its interview process. Part of that process is the use of a personality assessment to screen for desirable candidates to fit with Neiman Marcus’s ideology.
The screening tests are supposed to help an interviewer have objective information that is not subject to biases. According to the Dalrymple’s Sales Management text “Testing was found to be one of the most reliable predictors of entry level job success. ” Three main tests mentioned are intelligence, personality, and aptitude. The application process is as follows: after a candidate completes a job application on a HRIS (Human Resource Information System) they are then transferred to the SHL system and complete an assessment test.
They are then transferred back to the HRIS system. (“SHL is a company that provides workplace talent assessment solutions including ability and personality tests, and psychometric assessments in more than 50 countries and in 30 languages”. ) A report is then immediately available which enables the interviewer to hire right then and there. As a result of Neiman Marcus adopting this process they make claims of having a reduction in staff turnover by 18%. In locations where the new system is being used, the pay for sales associates have been increased by 15. % and the interview – to- hire cycle was reduced from several days to 24 hours.
The criteria selected by Neiman Marcus for a sales associate position is a direct result from the planning process where the company would define the company culture by analyzing the job, analyzing the job description and determining the qualifications they want to invest in a sales force. After receiving that information, the company SHL designed a personality assessment based on key competencies, attitude, and behaviors that applied to top performing sales associates with good employment tenure records.
The assessment is simple and easy to use by store managers for the purpose of minimizing the risk of poor interviewing techniques. 30% of businesses that were surveyed showed that they used personality tests in hiring. Many companies consider testing more important than experience or education, while other companies like Universal Studios Theme Park will still interview candidates regardless of test scores just in case there were errors in the assessment. In most cases the results are close to what is surmised in the interview. Long held debates question whether or not personality tests can reduce personality to a set of numbers.
Examples of popular tests are the “The Myers-Briggs type indicators used to match job seekers with jobs based on four qualities of introversion/ extroversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, judgment/perceiving and for careers in positions of authority and trust. Another popular test is the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory test, which looks for drug abuse or other pathologies. Questions remain unanswered. Could this sort of testing stigmatize applicants who have not committed any wrong doings and could it result in an injustice to innocent people?
A survey showed that 49 percent of companies that used computerized hiring systems saw no changes in turnover rates. The American Psychological Association found little evidence that tests purporting to measure honesty are accurate. The danger that lies in these tests is they are not regulated or certified, and anyone can make up a test and make claims as they wish. Companies like “People Answers” make claims of “streamlining the recruiting process” and hiring process for hiring managers offer “full behavioral analysis on every candidate”.
They claim they can uncover hidden attributes that reveal a candidates drive for success and can separate out the underachievers. While this procedure may save time and the associated costs of hiring staff, questions arise about these programs of whether they make allowances for people who come from different cultures and minorities. These programs may be set to be too narrow as to not give equal opportunity to deserving candidates. Creativity and innovation cannot be predicted by a computer survey. Also, candidates could gain knowledge on how to beat these tests rendering them useless.
While these tests might prove to be a good indicator of the attributes of what a company finds desirable in a candidate, it is being suggested here that there is no substitute for good training and interview skills. Caution is indicated where there could be an over reliance on these procedures and could prove to be a drawback in the long run. Training Since Neiman Marcus’s training programs are decentralized, sales associates are trained at the store location where they will work. This instruction is done in a classroom setting that includes web conferences and online essions.
This strategy reduces travel expenses and managers can observe the new employees first hand. The decentralized training for sales associates has worked well for them. One of the things Neiman Marcus has been doing right is their training philosophy and techniques. Much of what they have done has been imitated by others. The contemporary theory of customer service was popularized by Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus offers a five day training course to new employees, while Nordstrom has a less formal approach with more emphasis on incentives and providing information.
New Sales force employees receive training that covers Neiman Marcus history, policies and procedures. They also receive a course called ‘The Art of Selling” which teaches new sales associates how to give outstanding service to clients. This training offers custom-designed materials and programs to fit the Neiman Marcus philosophy. The material covers product knowledge and how sales process behavior leads to a successful conclusion. Another thing Neiman Marcus does right is their follow up training.
They use a variety of methods that include classroom session, video, web conferences, systems training, online resources, lending library, in the job coaching, and in-store/in-facility experiences. Associates receive 200 hours of training their first year and 150 hours of training in subsequent years. This constant training reinforces the Neiman Marcus culture and leads to continual improvement, better selling skills, increased product knowledge, and ultimately better customer relations. Retailers have found that better service often equals higher sales and almost always results in loyal customers.
A new topic for sales training is technology based selling skills. This is an area that is changing all the time. Cutting edge technology can give a company a real advantage over the competition when they are early entrants. One new technology is customer relationship management hand held devices. In the past, product information that might only be known by a few specialists with years of experience is now at the finger tips of the entire floor of sales associates. This is the power of being trained in using customer relationship management hand held devices.
These devices are called Mobile CRMs. The devices have the power to take customer service to a whole new level. Imagine a sales person being able to access customer data at any time. Sales people can up sell, make suggestions, check inventory availability, and even answer customer’s questions about a specific product without having to run off somewhere to get answers and information. Instead, they can get it on the spot. If a product is not available, they can put the customer on a call list to be notified when a product has become available.
This cutting edge technology will free sales associates to make the buying experience as effortless as possible. Sales people can make the transactions for the customer without having to go back to the register counter or point of sale station. Customers can be on their way in just minutes. This type of device helps a sales person improve his/her efficiency by being more competent in carrying out one’s duties which will in turn improve customer relations that result in an increase of productivity that leads to more personal satisfaction resulting in reduced turnover.
According to the New York Times article, “Creating a Better Sales Force”, Mr. Lyon of The Container Store states: “If you give great service, you make people happier. Not only do employees who are better prepared to sell have a greater sense of accomplishment, they contribute ideas that help the company grow, and they become the next generation of management. ” Account Relationships Neiman Marcus prides itself as the premier luxury retailer dedicated to providing our customers with distinctive merchandise and superior service.
Former President Stanley Marcus believed in the “best of the best”, both in products and customer relationships. It was his belief that providing superior customer support through consultative transactions would result in customer loyalty. The sales associates should provide a “personal shopping” experience with each customer. They assist by knowing where merchandise is located, what? s in stock, what? s coming in, what will meet a customer’s needs, and what will not. Associates build trust with customers by answering the customer’s needs rather than providing the nearest product with a simple solution.
For example, if a customer arrived looking for a lightly colored lip gloss, a sales associate would try to determine if the customer was looking for nourishment, a concealer, or an enhancer, because each situation may have a different product as a result. To assist the sales associates, Neiman Marcus partnered with Business Objects in 2002 to redesign a strategic customer relationship application. The new computer system provided sales associates with product information. They are able to know what is in stock and on the floor at all times. The system was also created to include a computer based clientele tracking system.
This system can track all sales for each client. Based on the information from the sale, such as designers, colors, sizes, time of purchase, and frequency, a profile can be built for each customer. It will also allow the sales associates to track life events and special occasions for each client to add value and build a meaningful personal relationship. This system will also allow department sales managers to access real time reporting on the sales of each associate in their department based on dollar amount, number of sales, and brands sold.
Sales associates are also instructed to build a relationship and create loyalty by maintaining familiarity with InCircle, Neiman Marcus’s loyalty program. Each associate is expected to introduce new customers to the program and provide updates to existing members. To become a member, a customer only needs to open a new Neiman Marcus account. Once opened, they are enrolled and can register their American Express and Diners Club credit cards, the only other cards accepted in stores.
Each dollar spent in the store or online will equal one point in the InCircle loyalty program. After the first purchase, members will receive advanced notices of promotions, shows, and invitations to exclusive events. It is these “soft rewards” that generate Neiman Marcus’s most loyal customers. Sales associates promote the exclusivity of the events to make members feel as though they are included in the most fashionable circles. At the exclusive InCircle events, shoppers mingle with other likeminded members who positively influence their spending.
Members are also encouraged to bring a non-member to the events which generate promising new customers. Businesses can also benefit for the quality customer service at Neiman Marcus. Many businesses use the knowledge and reliability of associates to place bulk orders. Often a business relationship can develop over the phone, with products being delivered in person. This service allows minimal interruptions for busy business professionals. This service if often utilized during the holiday season by corporations looking to distribute luxurious gifts to their employees.
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