The Customer / CEO Relationship

A company’s success largely depends on its successful customer relationships.

Still, it’s not considered customary for executives to spend time with their customers. Of course, that’s understandable since the CEOs have more important tasks to handle especially when we talk about large-scale businesses.  

But this attitude is now experiencing an entire paradigm shift. If the executives have no time for their customers, their employees will also follow suit and won’t feel empowered or motivated to do so.

And everyone knows that in order to understand the needs of your customers, you have to spend time with them, communicate with them, and offer support when they are facing problems.

Now that it has been established that CEOs must spend time with their customers, the question is, how much time should they dedicate to this activity?

Let’s find out!


Emerging businesses need to build a relationship of trust with their customers, especially in the first year. And therefore the CEOs of startups should spend at least 50% of their time with customers.

This might sound a bit too much but some experts have even suggested that startups should have their CEO serve the role of the Chief Customer Officer till they hire someone who is just as competent or even more so.

A CEO who often engages himself/herself in active discussions with customers have a clear understanding of how their vision will evolve. At the start, most businesses have a vague mission statement but it has to improve over time when you learn what your customers need and what their expectations are.

And to learn this is possible only when you spend time with your customers on a regular and consistent basis.

Mid-Sized Companies

CEOs of businesses that have enjoyed some success in the first couple of years should still be spending about 25% of their time with customers.

By this time, the executives have a clear understanding of their vision and they have already analyzed that their business model is sustainable. At this stage, it is more important to retain the existing customers and at the same time achieve new business acquisitions.

Even if you have an established business with thousands of customers and hundreds of employees, the time you spend with customers directly is going to have a huge impact on how you plan your future direction.

Marketing people and product managers often spend a lot of time making assumptions about how a particular product will be received by customers. But these assumptions are often shattered when an actual customer interacts with you and tells you about their problems. This becomes even more important when your product has a lot of features and can be used in a number of different ways. As a business owner, you should make sure that all these aspects are well communicated to the customers so they can make an informed buying decision.

More often than not, if you don’t spend time with your customers, you find out that your call center agents are not using the same language as you would. They may not show as much patience as you would like them to and end up losing a customer.

As the owner of a company and the customer service rep at the same time, you can learn quite a bit about the service department. Once you are aware of what the support team needs, you will be able to provide your future team with the right tools to succeed. One of the most important aspects of successful communication is to learn each and every feature of the product and be able to deliver great customer service based on that knowledge.


It has been seen that most executives spend only about 3% of their total time with customers regardless of the size of their business. However, their goal should be to build a company that focuses on building successful customer relations. And this vision should be communicated down to all levels in the hierarchical structure of a company to make sure it turns into a reality.

Whatever actions a CEO takes, they have an impact on the overall success or failure of a business. It is therefore imperative for the CEOs to spend more time with their customers to understand their needs and align their business vision accordingly.

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