86 Year-Old Chairman Still Talks To Customers

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.

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

One thought on “86 Year-Old Chairman Still Talks To Customers”

  1. Excellent insight, Bruce.
    I was reviewing a client’s customer satisfaction data today and found a number of customers whose biggest complaint was that my client wasn’t communicating enough with them. Every other measure was in normal range, but these customers are on the verge of defecting because they don’t feel like they are important enough.

    Clearly they need more personal attention. And they are valuable enough to warrant it. Or else!

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