Startling Statistics!


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Startling Numbers!

I have returned home from Kuala Lumpur and the conference there on customer service. It was a great experience! I met some fascinating people and learned some interesting facts – quite startling actually!

For example, a recent survey (which I cannot find at the moment for some reason) of the US revealed that 75% of senior managers and above NEVER have any contact with customers! What do you think of that? It scares me!

In another study, 85% of the executives surveyed believe their company is doing a better job with customer service, while only 55% of their customers agree! In the same study it was found that 56% of the executives felt that their company was customer-centric, while only 12% of their customers agree! Why is there such a huge disconnect? What should we do about this, if anything?

Do you believe the executives are out of touch? What other conclusion can you draw from these survey results?

I hope that my clients stay customer-centric, and stay in touch with their customers. I would love to hear your thoughts on this idea that the executives in these surveys are somehow living in an imaginary world. Is this the year of the customer? How can the leaders of these companies be so disconnected from what their customers think?

Chris Stiehl
Chris has helped companies save money and sell more by understanding their customers better. He once saved a company $3 million per year for a one-time research expense of $2K. What does your competition know about your customer that you don't know?


  1. Chris

    Startling, shocking, but perhaps not suprising.

    There is no substitute for going to the customer-facing front-line, in seeing how customers are handled and in meeting customers for yourself. Toyota does this continuously as part of its Genchi Genbutsu process of ‘going to the source’ of their business. It obviously works.

    The New York Times has a great story about how Toyota used Genchi Genbutsu to get inside the minds of potential pick-up customers when designing the Toyota Tundra. It’s a great read.

    When did you last meet a customer face-to-face?

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

    Further Reading:
    New York Times on ‘From 0 to 60 to World Domination’

    Wikipedia on Genchi Genbutsu

  2. Graham-
    While I worked at Cadillac in the early 1990s, I had employees rotate off the assembly line to come into the office and call people who had ordered the cars on which they were working. The assembly line workers really enjoyed this, as did the customers! It was a struggle to get the senior managers to want to do the same thing. Why do so many American managers have such resistance? The opportunities to listen are there. I’m convinced.

    co-author of Pain Killer Marketing (WBusiness Books, April, 2008)

  3. Chris and Graham,

    Often the problem runs deeper than whether you visit customers or not.

    A few years ago I was doing a project with a company that did make an effort to visit there customers. They sent a senior person from R&D along with a senior marketing person to visit a sampling of customers. In one case, the customer was trying to get the company to modify or extend the functionality of the software. They had an eye to open a new market opportunity. The engineer keep talking about what the software did and keep trying to get the customer to change their approach to the market. After the meeting the engineer jumped all over the marketing person for promoting the product to the wrong type of customer.

    Today, that customers is the largest user of that company’s hardware. They developed their own software. The profit margins and market potential in their market are much larger than the one the company focused on. The customer does not want to provide any insight into their software or the market place to the vendor. They keep their people out of their facility or require a strict confidentiality agreement. They also bargin agressively when they buy additional hardware.

    Listening with an open mind could have change this picture.


    John I. Todor, Ph.D.,
    Author of Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company.


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