I recently attended a presentation by Tom Potter, one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs and the founder of Eagle Boys Pizza, a business with 150 franchises across Australia. It was interesting to note that Mr Potter still takes the time to physically work behind the counter in many of the Eagle Boys Pizza franchises he visits. His reasoning: ‘To make certain I never lose touch with our customers.’ A lot of business people could learn a valuable lesson from his example.
Personally I believe that anyone who sits on the board of a large company should spend a prerequisite amount of time dealing with customers at the coal face of the business. Too often large companies lose touch with their customers simply because the people making the decisions are too sheltered from the frontline.
In small business we often spend a lot of our time trying to get away from directly dealing with customers because it can be tough, demanding, frustrating and time consuming. I am certainly not saying that every business owner should spend forty hours a week behind the cash register but I do believe every one of them should be communicating with the customers on a regular basis. Depending on the type of business this may mean making a few phone calls each week, or it may mean physically standing on the floor.
From my experience, those businesses where the final decision maker interacts directly with customers on a regular basis tend to offer far greater levels of customer service than those that do not. Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers and to ask for their opinions—remember without customers your business would be a very lonely place and sadly it seems that too many larger corporations forget this critical point.
What can you do today?
Consider how you can spend more time with customers to get their feedback and opinions on what your business is doing well and what it could do better.