19 July 2008

Never lose touch with your customers

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.

I think we should take this one step further. CEO’s of every major company should be made to have to experience their business as any normal customer would. Imagine how quickly Jetstar’s service really would change if Jeff Dixon actually had to stand in a line for an hour and see and feel what it’s like to be treated as a Jetstar customer. I think the service would change a lot quicker.

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.

If you want to be truly successful in business, never, ever stop communicating with your customers or most importantly of all, put yourself in their shoes and see what their experience with your business is really like.

2 thoughts on “Never lose touch with your customers”

  1. Hi Andrew
    Imaginif recently lost touch with everyone. Our move to 30 James St resulted in no internet and a single phone line in for weeks. If you see Paul and I walking around with flat foreheads, we are not revisiting our Neanderthal roots, but rather, we have injuries from hitting our heads against the wall!!!!!! We are still not sorted with our tele communications and possibly won’t be for a few more weeks.

    In a communication business, lack of phone and internet has costs us greatly. It was, however, a great opportunity to do some of the face to face networking that had become much more Web 2.0 natured lately.

    I have taken the opportunity to get out of the office and back into the community. We have even now opened a counselling practice in Innisfail. Next week I am off to Bamaga to do some workshops…all without technology.

    Customers are so lovely. I didn’t realise I missed them so much. I wonder why we lose touch with them.

    And…Paul and I became grandparents during our move. My daughter had a baby girl. Life is great.

  2. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your great post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

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