By  on August 26, 2008

J. Crew is ramping up customer service with several expanded customer-centric programs tailored to make shopping easier by better anticipating and responding to customers’ needs in stores, online and at its call centers for catalogue orders.

Based on the feedback from shoppers, market research and a more introspective business model, customer service has become the rallying cry of chairman and chief executive officer Millard “Mickey” Drexler and president Tracy Gardner, who believe that better service will ultimately increase sales, spotlight the brand and help differentiate the $1.3 billion chain from the competition.

The intensified customer service approach was launched in June at the 197-unit chain’s Rockefeller Center store in New York with a program called “Just Ask,” which is similar to a concierge station in the store where a customer can make a shopping appointment with a personal shopper or stylist, access hard-to-find items including limited edition styles from J. Crew’s Web site and catalogue.

Other “Just Ask” features include 15 percent in-store discounts for teachers and college students, expanded ranges of special-size garments and more prominently promoting its wedding and party dress specialists, who can help wardrobe an entire wedding. There’s no charge for the “Just Ask” services.

Though only the Rockefeller Center J. Crew store has a designated “Just Ask” desk, almost all stores, including a new 7,520-square-foot unit at Galleria Dallas that opened Aug. 5, have a designated red telephone that can access a customer service associate to help shoppers with more customized service.

“The response has been fantastic,” said Gardner. “Customers love it. We will be rolling out the ‘Just Ask’ desk to new stores as well as launching them in a few existing locations. To us, it really comes down to a philosophy. America’s standards are too low when it comes to expecting good service.”

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