There was an interesting article in the LA Times about Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph’s view of service. It turns out that the 86 year-old Joseph (who’s net worth is more than $1 billion) receives eight or nine letters from customers each month and, in most cases, he calls the customer. Here’s what Joseph says about his actions:
You used to be able to pick up a phone and talk to people. That doesn’t happen anymore. Now there’s e-mail and automated switchboards. People want to talk to people. They want to talk to people who are knowledgeable and who can answer questions.
My take: There’s almost nothing more powerful than senior executives systematically talking with customers. I call this activity “continuous listening,” which is one of the key levels in a voice of a customer program. When execs regularly speak with customers, three great things happen: 1) The execs keep grounded in what customers need and want; 2) those customers feel special and appreciated; and 3) other employees get a clear message that customers are important.
The bottom line: There’s nothing better than some good old-fashioned customer experience.