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How J.Crew’s Great Customer Engagement Saved Summer (for some)

It’s an infuriatingly and wearisome process. It’s been known to turn even a confident woman into a tearful, insecure mess. I’m talking about swimsuit shopping, and despite all the technological advancements that allow us to try swimwear on in the safety (and privacy) of our bedrooms, the annual summer beachwear trek is still the most dreaded shopping excursion of the year.

Having found a swimsuit that you love, you feel a burden lifted from your winter-pale shoulders.  You wear that suit until it falls apart and then you buy another one.  Maybe you go a little crazy and order different colors, but you stay with the same cut, which is why all women could relate to Jenni Avins’ post in New York Magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, begging J.Crew to bring back their one-piece, scoop-backed swimsuit that she loved so much growing up.  In her letter, Jenni describes how difficult it has been to find a similar suit and the subtle differences between her beloved J.Crew suit and other brands’ offerings.

/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/jcrew_image_png_443355.jpgJ Crew responded eight months later with a full page ad in New York Magazine displaying the one-piece, scoop-backed swimsuit and a hand-written note by Jenna Lyons, Creative Director at J.Crew.

As fans of the brand know, stellar customer service is not unusual at J.Crew.  Granted, Jenni Avins is a writer for a prominent magazine and perhaps has a larger audience and, therefore, more clout than the rest of us.  But there are other stories of J.Crew taking the time to listen to their customers; for example, in this one from Forbes last year, CEO Mickey Drexler called a suburban mom after she wrote a note to the J.Crew 24-7 address, expressing her disappointment with the creative direction of the company.   On a personal aside, J.Crew won me over after one of their designers spent time helping my seamstress modify my Matron of Honor’s bridesmaid’s gown to fit her 6-month pregnant belly.   I assure you, my wedding was small and did not make any society pages. It was simply an act of a true customer-centric company. 

Nowadays, a customer service success story almost always equals a marketing success story.  After the story made rounds on various publications including Ad Week, Forbes, Huffington Post and Business Insider, J.Crew saw a spike in social media chatter after the ad ran.   The more recent upward trend is likely due to a combination of additional press coverage of the story and the announcement of J.Crew’s collaboration with shoe designer Sophia Webster.


The much discussed swimsuit is available here for $88 (but selling out quickly).  For some women, summer can officially begin. For the rest, hang in there and maybe consider a well-written letter to your favorite brand.

Ad image courtesy of New York Magazine.

Lana Smith works in Content Marketing at SAP and writes about Sales, Service and Marketing topics. She is not ready for summer.

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