CEOs and board members are out of touch with customer trends as they shun input from staff who deal with end users directly, according to a report by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).
The paper Leading by Example is based on a poll of 650 employees and line managers. It suggests only around half (51%) believe that their boards are interested in customer insight.
Fewer than half of those surveyed believe that CEOs and board members understand customer needs. One around one-third (36%) believe senior executives listen to customers. And only 44% believe frontline staff’s experience is utilised by the top level of management.
>See also: Using customer service as a marketing tool
In a separate part of the research 30 business leaders were asked to name examples of “best practice” in customer service. Their views echoed those of the line managers polled, around half of whom (51%) said CEOs should invest in more customer service technology. Additionally 43% said more should be invested in customer service training for staff.
On the flip side more than half of the employees questioned (56%) said that they are recognised for the part they play in delivering good customer service. And two-thirds (66%) believe that company incentives around customer service are effective.
ICS CEO Jo Causon warned that if C-Suite executives don’t take an active interest in customer service, “they should not be surprised if the bottom line is hit as customers go elsewhere”.
“Our research shows that there are many leaders who adopt a customer-centric approach to business strategy, but all boards need to have representatives who either have direct experience of customer service roles. If such a role doesn’t exist, they need to develop the skills, insight and vision to ensure that the customer is a constant reference point,” she said.
Further reading: Humans over robots: addressing UK’s customer service skills gap