While doing my usual Facebook stalking, I saw a photo posted by Delta Airlines that I had to re-share with those who stalk me. It was a picture of the airlines CEO, Richard Anderson, sitting with a reservations agent taking customer calls “in recognition of [their] great work.”
I thought to myself, “How many CEO’s would take time out of their day to talk with customers?”
As small business owners, one of the many hats we wear is that of the CSR so we get plenty of phone time. At TheFerretStore.com, I always enjoyed sitting in customer service and taking calls from people who wanted to place orders, track packages or just talk about their pets. It helped me keep in perspective just what the folks answering the phones had to deal with ring after ring.
Many times I had no choice but to step into customer service. Call volume would be up, the reps needed help and there were customers to service. I never hesitated to jump on the phone when the need arose as that’s just what a small business owner does.
When I ran Solid Cactus, I was never that far from the customer. When I launched our call center several years ago I remember sitting in and taking calls from our customer’s customers. As the company’s president, my phone was always available for a compliment or complaint. Although no longer a part of the company’s management team, a great chunk of my work day and after hours time is spent talking with customers which I feel is incredibly important.
The lessons we learn as small business owners are often times forgotten. As the entrepreneur who founded XYZ company and sold it to ABC corporation suddenly becomes CEO, those customer conversations often times become “beneath” someone in such role. Which is why it was so refreshing to see Anderson on the front lines taking phone calls.
Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a company with three employees, one thing is constant – your customers. Without them you don’t have a business – or a paycheck. More CEOs need to get out from behind the desk and get in front of their customers every now and then. The best CEO is one that is in tune with his/her customers and is willing to listen to what they have to say.
Gotta run. The phone is ringing.