In fact, establishing customer relations has always been regarded as being important. But now company leaders are meeting face to face with their customers. Most allocate more than half of their time to customers based on the idea that “a wolf which ranges far and wide is never hungry”. They generally visit stores which are scattered through different cities, and they are trying to secure a competitive edge by always “chasing up” customers.
a short time after he became CEO of Procter & Gamble, A. G. Lafley developed a diary of customer visits for himself and other leading members of the management. The most important reason for doing this was that he had learned that the company’s product managers only spent an average of 3 percent of their time with their customers. Terry Leahy, the CEO of Tesco, the leading retail chain in Britain, spends two days a week in the stores communicating with customers and workers. They then develop or change the strategies of the company in the light of the feedback they receive. In Turkey, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of their time that leaders spend with customers in the last five years in particular. Competition and the crisis mean that CEOs now try to ensure that they spend at least 50 percent of their time with their customers.
“A Wolf Which Ranges Far And Wide Doesn’t Go Hungry” in the last few years in particular, there has undoubtedly been an increase in the percentage of their time that leaders spend with customers in Turkey. This is also the view of Zorlu Textile Group President Vedat Aydın, who notes that they have been applying a customer-focused management model in the company for the last four years. The orders of the “A Group”, which is the most important customer segment, are followed by the high level management in person. Vestel Companies Group Executive Board Member Levent Hatay is another example of a leader who has adopted spending time with customers as his management motto. “My philosophy is that the wolf which ranges far and wide is never hungry,” says Hatay and notes that he understood the importance of management on the ground in discussions he held with distributors and service centers for domestic customers in particular.
The Situation Has Changed Over The Last Five Years Most leaders believe that the importance of communications established with customers has increased in the last five years. They believe that the developments in communications technology and the more intensely competitive environment have played an important role in the change. SAP General Manager Cem Yeker, who says that he allocates 60 percent of his time to his customers, is of the same opinion. He believes that developments in the Internet and mobile technology have diversified the means of contacting customers and that close communications have begun to be established. Yeker notes that the number of contacts has increased 2-3 fold compared with five years ago. Teknosa General Manager Mehmet Nane believes that the main reason why leaders spend more time communicating with customers is the increase in competition. Nane says that he spends all of his time with customers.
What Do They Discuss With Their Customers? Another person who allocates 60 percent of his time to his customers is Koç Information Group General Manager Mehmet Nalbantoğlu. He describes the discussions which he holds with his customers in order to become more productive as follows: “In discussions with customers, I focus on how we will be able to create a competitive advantage for them with our existing proposed solutions.”
ScanDisk Turkey Manager Yosi Rafael says that he spends 75 percent of his time with customers. He notes that the increase in the amount of time spent with customers coincides with an increase in competition. He believes that making sales has become even more important than ever. For this reason, it is even more necessary to be in close contact with customers and to develop solutions which are suitable for their needs.
It Is Important To Be Involved In The Field Most leaders are pursuing customers in order to ameliorate a little the effects of the crisis. Philips Turkey Manager Özlem Fıdancı is one of these leaders. She believes that, during times of economic turbulence, making decisions by sitting in the office and producing theories is both difficulty and risky. There is a great advantage to being out in the field and close to the customer.
Starbucks Turkey General Manager Can İkinci is another leader who thinks that time spent with customers benefits the brand. İkinci says that he spends at least one day a week visiting stores in order to enrich Starbucks’s experience and receive feedback in person. “At the moment, we have 120 stores in nine provinces. I want to be seen in all of these stories at least once every three months,” he says.