Perception is Reality…The Saga of Abercrombie & Fitch and CEO, Mike Jeffries

When discussing quality and the various factors and dimensions that contribute to quality, we cannot overlook Dimension 9: Perception.  No matter how many of the dimensions of quality that a product or service may have, public/customer perception is inevitable and should be nurtured. It seems that the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, Mike Jefferies, may have forgotten this. In the year 2006, Mike Jefferies made very controversial (and exclusionary) comments about the brand’s target consumers. As stated by Jefferies…”In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids, “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” The statement not only gives the perception that kids who do not wear or cannot fit the clothing are somewhat unworthy and not allowed to be in the “in crowd” but it is also hurtful.

Since the comments made by CEO, Mike Jefferies, surfaced, Abercrombie & Fitch has had to do some major damage control but for those customers who do not fit the mode of Abercrombie & Fitch or those who are simply against this exclusionary attitude, the damage is irreparable. The perception of quality for the brand Abercrombie will no doubt suffer. I have never been a consumer of Abercrombie & Fitch for personal fashion preferences but at this point, even considering this brand or recommending it to others will be a nonoccurrence. Look at that! … someone who did not necessarily have any hard feelings toward a brand now will not even consider recommending simply based of perception.  A negative attitude toward a brand can form very quickly and this happens all of the time because a company does not take the time to consider how it actions will look in the eyes of consumers. I have no doubt that Abercrombie & Fitch sells clothes that comply with other Dimension of Quality- Reliability, Durability, Aesthetics, etc.…but if the brand is perceived as hurtful and exclusionary to anyone who does not fit the mode, purchasing or any recommendation for others to purchase will not even be considered.

As stated before,  Abercrombie & Fitch has had to do some major damage control after the unapologetic comments that CEO, Mike Jefferies has made on behalf of the company; issuing a sincere apology to those who may have offended. The image of Abercrombie & Fitch itself should also be considered for revision. The images that the company releases for the purpose of advertising all portray a specific group of individuals, not leaving any room for interpretation. If Abercrombie changed that very influential aspect of the brand…things could change for the better, almost immediately.

What do you think about the comments made by CEO, Mike Jefferies?
Has something of this nature ever stopped you from supporting a company?



The Customer is ALWAYS Right…even when they’re Wrong

Customer Service…where you repeatedly say the same thing as if you’ve never said it before.

I work for DePaul University Housing Services as a student front desk assistant. My place of        employment is customer service oriented. The front desk acts as the first line of defense for the department, answering the questions from students and parents who have various concerns and issues about campus housing.

The concerns of students and parents can range from being wait listed  to not receiving their preferred building, room type, or roommate. Some of our callers/guests receive undesirable information pleasantly and with understanding while others do not. Those are the guests that have to be handled with care.

It is important for me to approach each call/guest with a fresh approach giving them clear, consistent and correct information while ensuring that their individual needs are met. Doing this lowers the chance of receiving angry feedback. This brings me to the ‘5 Service Dimensions’-Reliability, Responsiveness, Assurance, Empathy, and Tangibles.

Reliability & Responsiveness consists of doing whatever you promise to your customers while being willing to help and respond to customers promptly. This should be taken seriously so that your customers can depend on your service or product. When I am on a call and the manager/coordinator needed to resolve a minor issue is unavailable, I take their name and number so that I can gather the information and call them back with a direct answer versus sending them to a voicemail. It is my responsibility to call them back as soon as I have the information. This is done so that the customer understands that their issue is important to our department

Assurance consists of being an expert in whatever information you are conveying to your customer about your product or service. You simply have to know what you are talking about. When I first started this position, I was not well versed in policies, deadlines, procedures, etc. I listened to my supervisor and to my fellow student workers while they were on calls and speaking to guests, along with reading the department procedures. Now, 2 years in, I can regurgitate information in my sleep. If you are an expert in your field, receiving an angry caller is not a big deal because you are able to inform them of clear, CONSISTENT information.

Empathy consists of caring about your customers and whatever issue they may have. Whenever I am on an unpleasant call, it is important that I put myself in their shoes and try to understand where they are coming from so that I can assist them to the best of my ability.

Tangibles consist of physical appearance of service environment and product. We have to make sure that the Department is organized, clean, and professional. This is not only benefits our guests but us as well. It is always easier to navigate and work in an organized space.

Regarding customer service, which service dimension is the most challenging for you?