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 am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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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