Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the wildly successful venture capital conglomerate known as Virgin Group once said, “Good customer service begins at the top. If your senior people don’t get it, even the strongest links further down the line can be compromised.” That quote is very true in terms of illustrating that success starts from the top down.
As a CEO, you’re responsible for overall management, structure and organization of the company. Nevertheless, this high level of management can take you away from the ultimate key to your company’s success – customers.
In a study published by CBS News, most CEOs spend about 60% of their time in meetings, 25% on the phone with other businesses or colleagues and around 15% of their time is devoted to working alone. While all of these functions are essential to running a company effectively, there is a glaring problem with this distribution of time. That problem is the lack of customer interaction.
While being a successful CEO requires you to perform a dizzying array of functions, too often, these responsibilities can keep you further away from your customer base. Increasingly, CEOs are beginning to realize that in order for a company to succeed, they need to connect with customers. Here are a few reasons why customer relations are so crucial to CEOs and ways they can interact with them more effectively.
Analyzing feedback and spreadsheets filled with customer data is a valid way to get a bead on customer opinion about your company’s products or services. However, getting in the trenches and going head-to-head with your customers gives you a visceral understanding of where they are coming from.
Therefore, get involved with your customer service team. Ask to get on the phone lines to directly speak with customers. Log into online chat features and start responding to customer inquiries on your company’s website. You get the idea. Getting first hand dialog with customers is a profound way to deeply understand your customer demographics needs.
One of the best sources of information you have to relate to your customer base is through your sales force. These professionals have their finger on the pulse of what motivates, inspires and drives people to purchase from your company. The more you speak to your sales team about market trends and customer behavior, the more informed you will be to make better choices for the continued success of your company.
Furthermore, make sure your sales team has the resources they need to gain big data from other business people and companies who are succeeding at customer acquisition. Click here to discover how you can help your team tap into sales tools and access premium intelligence from other businesses so they can more effectively convert leads into paying customers.
These groups deal with gathering pre existing or potential customers together for discussion about why they purchase from your company. Alternatively, focus groups can identify why some people are dissuaded from purchasing your products or services. In either case, having open discussions with people in your targeted demographic about your company’s offerings can reveal sobering information.
With the advent of big data analytic tools, the focus group has lost popularity for many CEOs in recent years. This is regrettable, because these groups are far more intimate and accurate in feedback than tracking bar graph trends about consumer behavior. Both assessment tools have their place, but ultimately group discussions are a vibrant way to understand your customers’ mindset.
Have your customer service team devise ways to implement customer surveys. The results can be tremendously telling as to what you can do to make positive changes in the workplace. Surveys can also reveal where certain departments of the company are falling behind in satisfying customer needs.
For example, if you and your staff are consistently seeing shipping errors, or inordinately slow ship times – that’s a clear sign to schedule an audit and review your company’s shipping department to address the issue. Conversely, if customer surveys reveal high satisfaction with your tech support department – that’s a sign to pat your support employees on the back.
In either example, surveys can prompt you to praise and empower your staff. Alternatively, if results indicate there are downfalls, it can motivate you to “check under the hood” in various departments and implement plans for improvement in performance.
We know that your position as a CEO is jam-packed with endless details and mind boggling responsibilities. However, it’s important not to become so consumed by these details that it takes you away from your core resource – customers. Carve out time to connect with customers, and stay mindful about their feedback. After all, your company’s success is only as good as the satisfaction of your customers.