Do you treat your customers like Pretty Woman or Gone Baby Gone?

I recently had two very different experiences with people who had definite, opposing views on treating or retaining a customer.  Both have commissions built into their compensation, so you would think both would know the value in long-term relationships and referrals.

One made me feel like Pretty Woman, you know the movie with Julia Roberts who has a shopping spree that made her feel like a million bucks.  Gone Baby Gone pretty much sums up the relationship with the guy who was willing to help a friend of mine finding a house to rent.  He is a real estate agent and does show rentals, but clearly told my friend and I that he doesn’t get commissioned on a rental like he would a sale.  He took us around town because he liked us, but reminded us on more than one occasion that he doesn’t get paid much for this. Then, when my friend wanted to look on the other side of town, he drew the line and said he didn’t want to go the 20 minutes out of his way and he should find someone else.  Now I was thinking long-term, because if I liked how this agent showed my friend rentals, I would engage him in a relationship when it was time for me and Frenchie to buy another house.  After hearing him complain about not getting a large commission on rentals, I was totally turned off and knew this was not the agent for us.

The Pretty Woman experience was completely different.  I’m not normally a spontaneous shopper, but, well, when you feel good – it’s easier to spend your money!

Frenchie and I were just coming from our weekly service at the homeless shelter, so you can imagine, we were not dressed fancy at all.  But, we needed to go to Nordstrom to get a tuxedo altered.  Once we were there, I noticed a vendor showcase that included all sorts of make-up artists offering make-overs and even a hair person demonstrating a cool, new curling iron.  My first stop was the hair vendor. She asked me if I wanted my hair curled. She was so inviting that I welcomed the opportunity.  I was so impressed with this new ceramic tool she used, I of course purchased it. I felt a new bounce in my step (and my hair) when I headed over to the make-up counter.  I didn’t need any makeup, but the sales woman asked if I wanted a free make-over. Hello? Of course!  She made me feel very good and did an amazing job on my make up. Frenchie was so impressed by the new hair and make up that he proposed that we go on a date now! Well, we were dressed for the soup kitchen not the French Laundry, so we went upstairs to our favorite sales person Jessica.  We told her we wanted to go on a date and I needed a new top.  She knows me well because I always go to her when I need clothes for special events, speaking engagements, or conferences. She found an amazing top that had a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it!  Frenchie rolled his eyes, knowing I was sold before even trying it on!

While going to the cash register to buy my new date-appropriate top, I came across a leather jacket that was on sale. No, I wasn’t shopping for a leather jacket, but I was feeling so good at this point, I thought, why not?

We thanked Jessica for taking such good care of me as usual. But, on our way out Frenchie thought my shoes just didn’t fit the rest of the new and improved me.  So – off to the shoe department! You can guess what happened next. Yes, a new pair of shoes that went with my new outfit.

The whole experience was so rich, so Pretty Woman-like that I just had to tell the store manager.  I told her we came in for a fitting and walked out a new person with hair, make-up, clothes and shoes.  This was the definition of Front-Row service!

The difference between these amazing sales women and the real estate agent is the sales women understood their purpose. They weren’t thinking of the immediate commissions they were making, they were focused on helping me feel good about spending money in their store.  Will I be back?  You bet.  Now, if only they sold real estate at Nordstrom!

From your grateful for front-row service  motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. *swoon*  You have just described a near perfect day Marilyn!  Remind me to meet you at Nordies the next time I have a motivational keynote in Vegas!!!  Making clients feel like Pretty Woman is a sure fire way to keep them happy and coming back.  And that real estate agent just lost a great future customer + all her friends! 

    • You are on Tami!  Can't wait for you to come to Vegas again!  And yes, the real estate agent lost out – I almost want to go to his office with two big shopping bags just to say 'Big Mistake…Huge!' Only my favorite movie scene ever!  

  2. Well, I've heard that Nordstrom's provides such AMAZING customer service that they will take back items for return – even if they don't sell them at their store! So next time you're in there – ask if someone can show you some real estate! They just might help you out! And you make a great point, Marilyn, about the importance of how you treat everyone you meet – regardless of what they can (or can't) do for you. I had an incredible and fabulous experience at a Four Seasons once and, as a conference keynote speaker, have told the story to thousands and thousands of people all across America. I'll bet you'll be telling BOTH of your stories to people for years to come. I'd like to be listed in your Pretty Woman example – not the Gone Baby Gone example.

  3. Geez, I would have had a challenging time hanging with the real estate agent after the first time he let you know how little you mattered. And your Nordstrom's experience is one I want to experience soon! What a fun experience and a great reminded to always treat your customers with grace and respect. That way you're more likely to show them the money!

  4. Awesome story Marilyn. I wish I had a Frenchie! Mine would have taken me to Subway and said I looked fine.  :)

    This is a great post. No wonder you are one of my favorite motivational speakers

  5. Photo, photo, I want a photo!  Your Norstrom experience was so dreamy I want to see hair, makeup, Eiffel Tower and "kicks"!!  Thank you for sharing a great comparison of customer service techniques, Marilyn.

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