As a CEO, we must live with our customers. We must know and understand their behaviors, needs, wants, and views as they inform the strategic planning process. This is a fairly well accepted idea currently. We must dig deep to know what they think about our products and brand. Of course, no company should do everything their customers request, but all companies must understand their customers, even more than those customers understand themselves. This is critical to the success of a CEO.
Too often CEO’s are overwhelmed with all the internal meetings, financial reports, and management and human resource issues. When we connect directly with customers several things occur in our business. We find that our customers and employees appreciate our involvement and help. Goodwill is formed.
The mere fact that we take the time to mix it up with the people doing the work and using our products drives this goodwill and culture in a positive direction. But at the same time, we also observe things that others may not see. Being a leader of a business provides us with insights, as well as ideally a comprehensive perspective, and we can lever the information to improve our business in a manner others may not.
As we visit our customers, we will find new product opportunities, extensions of our current products or services, other ways we can solve our customers problems, and we can gauge the success of our organization. My favorite outcome from when a CEO meets a customer is that she often becomes more passionate about the success of their business. It becomes personal.
At 9Lenses, as our name implies, we are all about discovering insights from stakeholders, not just employees to aid in strategic planning. This could be Board Members, customers, external advisers — anyone with a perspective that can drive insight into the business.
This can be particularly dramatic when you get information from customers — there are too many benefits to outline in a small post. Suffice it to say, a business’s numbers and internal workings are important, but they would not exist without customers, so start tapping into their knowledge!