Why I Still Shop at J.Crew: An Education in Customer Service
At some point in time we’ve all experienced poor customer service. Sooner or later we all have a run-in with an unhelpful store associate or cranky customer service representative but the way I see it, an unfavorable incident will rarely define my view of a brand. It’s what follows that demonstrates the caliber of a company. In other words, it’s the response to the unsatisfactory experience that determines whether or not I will remain a loyal customer or end up a disenchanted devotee.
Most of us are wise enough to know that the person behind the counter or at the call center doesn’t speak for the brand and even the best of us can have a bad day or be misunderstood. One person or one exchange rarely defines a brand’s image, unless it’s the person at the top. And with Mickey Drexler at the helm, that’s where J.Crew triumphs.
The above screen shot is from an email I received from J.Crew with the subject reading: “For a one-of-a-kind wedding plus, in stores & online, shop a Cardmembers-only sale.” Being a long time J.Crew card holder (because of such benefits) and having a summer wedding looming where I was in need of a specific suit, I thought it appropriate to take full advantage of the sale situation. To make a long story short, the discount code didn’t work and upon calling and speaking with a J.Crew associate, things went down hill quickly. After dismissing my concerns, stating they had no record of the email, I was referred to read the fine print, which states suiting being excluded from the sale. I was then told the worst words anyone in the customer service industry can utter, “there is nothing I can do about it.”
I felt misled, as the email I received at the very least suggested that such attire was indeed under the sale umbrella. I also didn’t appreciate the inference that I was misrepresenting their email communication, trying to pull a fast one just to save a few bucks. But ultimately it appeared I was wasting my time speaking to someone who not only didn’t seem interested in helping but suggested that they couldn’t even do so if they desired. With my customer service representatives hand’s effectively tied, I had to ask myself, “who in this company has the power to help me?” Not knowing where else to turn I sent a brief and explicit e-mail to J.Crew’s chairman and CEO, Mickey Drexler, simply stating what had transpired and alerting him to take a look at the emails being sent to customers, making sure they are more straightforward regarding such sale information. I wasn’t sure I’d hear back but at the very least, I wouldn’t be silent. 9:25 am, email sent.
At 9:29 am, I get a message back reading, “Thanks for sending- On it! Mickey.”
In a matter of 4 minutes flat, the chairman and CEO of J.Crew, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, managing a company with over 12,000 people, over 300 brick and mortar stores and revenues of somewhere around 1.7 billion had responded to a random customer’s concerns. Within an hour’s time I had a phone call from a J.Crew associate apologizing for the misunderstanding and offering the make good on the email’s promise. Obviously someone cares about J.Crew’s customer experience and that someone is Mickey Drexler.
If there is one point I would like to make clearly, it is this: it is not about the money. I could honestly give a damn about getting the discount. Fortunately in this stage of my life a few dollars wouldn’t delay me in procuring something as specialized as a suit, as it’s rarely a rewarding venture to scrimp on suiting. It was in the response that J.Crew reminded me that they care and in a globalized world where a man has more purchasing options than ever before, care is invaluable. Because Mickey cares, J.Crew cares.
Any Business 101 course will tell you that it costs five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. By mastering this simple principle, Mickey is not only revolutionizing J.Crew in terms of detail and design, but with emphasizing the customer experience. And granted, care is a relative term. At the end of the day, Mickey runs a company that is in the business of selling goods that make money. But it seems he realizes the important truth that all business is people business.
That’s why I continue to return to J.Crew. Of course they carry first-rate menswear that has a penchant for innovation with roots in the classic. Aesthetically, they’ve learned to go one step forward without going five, which makes their clothing infinitely wearable. But in this day and age of e-commerce, I can get that experience elsewhere. What I know I will get at J.Crew is that feeling of being taken care of along with quality garments. Typically this is the experience I have with any level of J.Crew associate; one of knowledge and care that emphasizes the customer experience. I’m sure I’ll have another misunderstanding with J.Crew at some point but it’s not about getting it right all the time, it’s about making it right. A company will undeniably reflect it’s leader. J.Crew cares because of Mickey Drexler.
Many thanks Mickey.