What’s the cost of NOT listening to customers?

monkey A company goes through a change at the top.  The new CEO comes from a financial background.  The new CEO institutes cost-cutting measures (after all, it’s what they know).  One item cut, all the customer feedback mechanisms – that means print surveys, point-of-sales surveys, and online feedback.  The company saves some money on cutting those items, but at what expense?

Is it a real loss after all?

I’m sure most readers will say that if they stop listening to customers then how will they know what customers want, or what customers think about their products and services, and what behaviors customers are exhibiting?  All valid points and probably true.  But the company could use other measures to track customer behavior such as revenue, purchases by segment, calls to customer support, and sales staff feedback.

What is the hidden price paid?

Think about the message the CEO is sending to the staff.  “We used to gather feedback, now we don’t, so maybe we don’t really care about our customers?”  It just seems natural to most employees to listen to customers.  For those not on the front-lines how else will they know that state of customer relationships?  For those on the front-lines how will they know if their experience is consistent with other front-line employees?  I have seen employee morale at companies like this really take a hit.  This change in policy, and how the void will be filled needs a good explanation from the new CEO to keep everyone on-board.

I’m all for cost-cutting measures if they make sense.  A real business leader needs to be able to balance cost-cutting with customer-caring.  I’ve yet to see a business only cut it’s way to growth…

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6 Responses

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  2. Absolutely! It’s not even that difficult to monitor what customers are saying if you use tools like Twitter and Technorati. There’s no excuse for not listening!

  3. The big problem with this thinking is that the CEO is only concerned with “bottom line” and neglects to see the effects it can have on “topline” Sure you saved some money, but you also lost some customers.

  4. @ Charles – Definitely agree, it doesn’t take a lof of work to monitor your customers online, and Twitter can provide an excellent forum for some rich dialog with customers.

    @Vince – Yes! Perhaps it is the short-sightedness of these type of CEOs. WIth that kind of thinking, maybe they won’t be around long enough to see the loss of customers.

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