business news in context, analysis with attitude

There is a terrific piece on by Chris DeRose in which he describes how his wife, having emailed a complaint to a customer service email address established by clothing retailer J. Crew, got a call back from Mickey Drexler, the company's iconic CEO, and Libby Wadle, J. Crew's president.

The entire piece is worth reading here. But here's an excerpt, which gets to the bottom line point:

"Drexler’s passionate pursuit of customer feedback is an inspiration to any of us who have written an irritated letter after a bad service experience or disappointing product purchase. Hopefully, Drexler will also serve as a role model for senior executives stuck in their headquarter offices to get out and interact with customers on the front line. Sure, such phone calls provide only one data point. But sometimes an emotional customer anecdote can give the impetus for making a judgment call that no spreadsheet can provide.

"Drexler not only pays attention to what customers are saying but also unabashedly acts on it, never apologizing for getting involved in the minutia of business operations. He will be the first to say that attention to detail is crucial for creating a product and brand experience that makes customers care enough to write those nasty letters in the first place."
KC's View:

This is exactly what savvy CEOs do. They don't hide behind their desks,they don;t interact only with direct reports and the board of directors. No, they get out in the stores, they get intimately involved with the brand experience, and they are smart enough to know that for a vision to be implemented, it has to be shared by everyone within a company.

What Drexler is doing isn't top-down management. Rather, it is top-redefined leadership.