Lessons from a 5-year-old

In any business, the customer is king. Whether it’s somebody you are selling a product or a service. If you don’t take care of your customers then you won’t be in business very long.

The best companies keep that in mind no matter how large they become.

FILE – In this May 27, 2007 file photo, a customer shops at a Gap store in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

The Washington Post recently wrote about an excellent exchange between a 5-year-old girl and the CEO of the Gap. The girl was frustrated when looking at the Gap’s offering online for females. Everything seemed to be pink or flowery. So her mother had her dictate a letter to the company asking for more options for girls who like “bugs or Batman.

Her letter was published in the Washington Post, which led to articles about it from Huffington Post and Today and a thank you letter from DC Comics.

That was followed by a direct letter from Jeff Kirwan, CEO of the Gap. Kirwan defended the company’s offerings as being more diverse but then admitted “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.”

Kirwan included a couple of free t-shirts.

The genius here is that the competition for shoppers is intense and rebuilding your brand is much harder than maintaining it. Kirwan identified a customer complaint as a way to get valuable feedback and improve its offerings. The free stuff builds brand loyalty and praising the person who took the time to give the feedback – even if they are only 5-years-old – can win someone over for life.

What he did not do is get defensive. Ask yourself, how many times when being offered constructive criticism have you gotten defensive and the other person stopped and said, “you’re right. I’m totally off base here.”

It doesn’t happen too often.

Better to look at bad reviews or complaints as a way to better yourself and your company – and act quickly. Don’t let negative views of your company linger in the digital marketplace.

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