There was an article awhile back about the response that Gap, Inc. President and CEO, Jeff Kirwan, sent to a 5-year old customer. The youngster wrote a letter to Gap asking the retailer for more variety in girls’ clothes, “…not just pink and princesses….”. Mr. Kirwan responded and The Washington Post published a copy of his email: (intentionally shortened for this article)
I got hold of the letters you sent in and wanted to be the one to reply to you….You sound like a really cool kid with a great sense of style….
At GapKids, we try to always offer a wide range of styles and choices for girls and boys. This includes a selection of girls’ tees with dinosaurs, firetrucks, sharks, footballs, and some of our superheroes….
But, you are right, I think we can do a better job offering even more choices that appeal to everyone. I’ve talked with our designers and we’re going to work on even more fun stuff that I think you’ll like.
In the meantime, I’m going to send you a few of my favorite tees… let us know what you think. Our customers’ comments are very important to us…..
Thank you, again….
Mr. Kirwan’s email offers some great lessons in customer service.
1) Customer complaints are a gift. They are the best way to get valuable feedback and to learn where to make improvements.
2) Sending free stuff or just doing right by your customers means you’ll probably have them for life.
3) Acknowledging and thanking the opposing party (the complainer) is important especially because he or she made the effort to contact you. A customer can stop buying your product or service in a heartbeat and, without feedback, you’ll never know why.
4) Advice, suggestions, and good ideas can come from anywhere and from anyone. Sometimes the best feedback comes from where you’d least expect it.
Providing great customer service has always been important to businesses but is even more so today, because customers have so many choices. What often distinguishes one company from the next is the ability to listen to feedback and pay attention to customers. The ability to listen and to communicate respectfully is a skill we can all practice, whether we’re the CEO, the sales rep, or the receptionist.