Putting your CEO on support - to answer emails and calls - is the ultimate reality and business sanity check. Don't miss the opportunity to learn from your customers, who are the lifeline of both your brand and your business.
A CEO on support can help your business
A couple of days ago we were proud partners of Ladies of New Business event in Zagreb, Croatia. We were a platform sponsor and the event used our Wall of Tweets – world’s most loved Twitter and social media wall solution. Somewhere in the second half of the conference we got a support request from the client on-site. I answered the call and talked to our customer. I quickly realized the issue was not with our service – but that doesn’t change the essence of this story.
Several days earlier, a similar thing had happened.
You should also know that apart from answering support calls, I do my best to respond to all business inquiries we get through our form on UXPassion.com and try to do so within an hour or even quicker than that.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I have plenty of time on my hands and that I’m manning the support just to fill in the time. This is a deliberate decision from my end. Being in constant touch with our customers, experiencing their expectations, learning about their needs and desires gives me an ultimate reality and sanity check.
The Big picture vs the details
While working as a CEO and founder, you need to be the leader of your team. You are expected to set the vision, drive the engagement and paint the big picture. It’s incredibly important to understand each and every bit and piece of your business. Chances are you are constantly dealing with people and with customers. The best way to serve them and understand their needs is to be on the front-line and support them. Yes – it does take time. Yes – it does mean that sometimes you answer emails at 2 am. But it also brings in new business, new opportunities, happy customers – and most importantly – you get valuable learnings.
Be prepared to face some skepticism, however. More often than not, I get a reply back from our potential customer asking – is this really the CEO of the company answering emails? Or are we just using my name and title to try and leave an impression that here, at UX Passion, the CEO will answer their emails? This could mean one thing: A practice of CEOs answering support emails and client inquiries, is (still) not an everyday thing – it is more of an exception. And while I don’t have any trouble convincing people that I do personally answer their emails, I have this feeling that, as founders and executives, we are missing a great opportunity to connect with our current and potential customers and to get the direct and brutally honest reality check.
One of my first jobs, where I earned my money for college and to pay rent after I moved from my parent’s home, was at the customer support call center at one of the largest ISP in Croatia. My parents were not what you would call “men (parents?) of means” so I needed to earn my money and still had to manage my classes and other obligations. I was often working late and taking up night shifts so that I could go to classes in the morning and during the day. While all of this was intense and exhausting at moments (and, honestly, the salary was not the greatest – which was perfectly fine since it was my first real job!) it provided me with a valuable life lesson. I learned to be patient and, most importantly, I learned to listen. Back then, more than a decade ago, I knew that this experience will be helpful to me whatever I decide to do later in my job. At that time, I was working towards my degree in physics and expected to become an astrophysicist. Today I am an entrepreneur and a guy who loves researching and developing stuff, and what I learned back then is even more important to me than I had ever thought it would be.
As founders and executives, we are missing a great opportunity to connect with our current and potential customers and get the direct and brutally honest reality check.
Just do it!
If you are a CEO or manager and executive of any kind, do dedicate an hour or so a week to man the support emails or calls. You will learn a lot; you will gain strategic insights and get the opportunity to connect and build a relationship with your current or potential future customers.
As a disclaimer, I need to say that I am not answering each and every email we get. I simply can’t do that due to the sheer volume of emails I receive daily. But if you ever get a reply from us signed by my name – it was me answering it. Same on the phone. With UX Passion, you get the CEO on support. :)