A couple of weeks ago, a young girl named Alice Jacob wrote a letter to fashion retailer Gap asking for the store to consider more variety in the clothes it offers to girls, instead of "just pink and princesses and stuff like that."

(As a father to an awesome 2-year-old daughter who happens to love dinosaurs, I completely get this request.)

Well, the president and CEO of Gap, Jeff Kirwan, just responded.

And his email is remarkable.

As reported by The Washington Post:

Hi Alice,

I got hold of the letters you sent in and wanted to be the one to reply to you. I'm Jeff and I'm the head of Gap.

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. Our latest Disney Collection, Beauty and the Beast, is also all about the strength and bravery of girls, and that's something that's really important to us.

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 from our latest collection. Please check them out and let us know what you think. Our customers' comments are very important to us, and they help us create even better products with each season.

Thank you again,
Jeff

Gap Brand President & CEO

Wow. Now that's what I call customer service.

There are a few things that make Kirwan's message so great, and that leaders everywhere can learn from.

For example:

  • Identifying that customer complaints are a gift--because they offer valuable feedback and the opportunity to improve
  • Sending free stuff in exchange for that valuable feedback, which makes a huge impression and will probably win that customer for life
  • Praising and acknowledging the opposing party (which most people can't do nowadays)

All of these things are great. But there's one action here that stands head and shoulders above the rest:

He took advice from a 5-year-old.

That's right, a CEO of a multibillion dollar company with over 100,000 employees actually acknowledged that a 5-year-old had identified a major problem.

Not a fellow executive. Not McKinsey, or BCG.

A 5-year-old.

That's not an easy thing for most people to do.

It should be, though. Because so often, you can get the best feedback from the person you'd least expect to offer it. (Like that new intern. Or even the janitor.)

So, if you take only one thing away from Kirwan's letter, may it be this:

Good ideas can come from anyone.

No matter how old they are.

Published on: Mar 29, 2017
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