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.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

One Response to 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!
    Curtis

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