This is one of our favorite questions to the teams we meet and train, together with the question "How much time have you spent with your customers in the last few months".
Most of the time the answers range from nothing to a few hours.
And we hear many good excuses for NOT spending time with your customers - too much work, need to prioritize urgent issues, not part of direct responsabilities (we have a specialized department for that), not valued/recognized by my manager, don't know how to organize, not skilled to interact with customers, etc.
Think of it as an investment: one day spent with your customer will make you better equiped to take into account their needs when developing your business plans. And remember that all the time you spend on executing plans is useless if your plans are not built on a strong empathy for your customer.
Top management has a clear role to play to walk the talk and encourage employees to listen, observe and experience what it is like to be a customer. Take for instance Airbnb - each employee is encouraged to be a host and gets $2000 in Airbnb travel credit each year to experience behing a guest. Dany Wegmans was insisting on receiving a report of all customer feedback received during the week. An executive from a pharmaceutical company got into the habit of starting every monthly management team meeting with a story of a customer he had met during the month.
Not sure how to start? We help organize customer encounters and immersive experiences for executive teams to help build empathy for the customer and realize how valuable the experience is to identify improvement opportunities and generate business building ideas. We can help you set up a "meet your customer" program for your employees with proper training on how to get the most of a customer encounter and how to turn the insights gained into business building ideas.