Essence of a CEO’s job

I was in the customer service office the other day (which drives our stellar reps, Melissa and Anjuli nuts) just sort of kicking around – and I fielded a telephone call from a customer. I try to do this a few times a week; for one, it keeps me in tune with the types of questions asked and, two, it keeps me in tune with what my outstanding Customer Service reps experience on a day to day basis. Anyway, this guy had registered with our site but hadn’t placed an order yet. I spent several minutes describing our service, talking about how secure our Indian operation is, and answering half a dozen questions for him.

I then asked one of my own “what made you call in today?” He said that he had received the monthly newsletter that goes out to all registered users which said that we had worked through our massive backlog and had returned to a 4-6 week turn around time, so he thought it was time to place his order. He said that, although he appreciated the letter, he couldn’t be sure of its veracity and that he doesn’t have faith that executives have time for such “trivialities”. I told him that I could 100% guarantee that the newsletter had been written by the CEO because I was the one who wrote it. He thought at first that I was pulling his leg but I quickly convinced him otherwise.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that you absolutely must listen to your customers and take care of them when necessary. This sounds sort of trite and elicits a “no duh” response but think about how many companies don’t understand this. I would venture a pretty solid guess that well over half the companies out there, in any industry, forget (or ignore) this one simple dictum. My job is to set strategic vision and give my people the tools they need to do their job – but my job, at its root, is also to ensure that our customers are taken care of and that they always have a voice in what we are doing. It would be kind of hard for me to set a clear and successful strategy if I didn’t listen to what my customers were telling me. Don’t you think?