5 CEOs Who are Hands-On with Customer Service (and Why You Should Be Too)

What would your reaction be if you received an email from the president of a multinational company or got a call from the CEO of a well-known brand, to address your customer service concern?
One thing’s for sure, it will be a splendid customer experience for anyone.
In the customer service industry, personalization is a key element to making your company stand out from the rest. And when we talk about personalization, these companies have taken it to the next level—the executive level. CEOs and Presidents of several companies (corporations or startups) discovered that being hands-on with customers have defined their customer service approach; more so, being personal with clients can reap both revenue and customer loyalty.
No matter how busy they may be running the company, executives in high positions who take time to “serve” their customers show what their company’s focus and values are about—the people. Take cue from these CEOs who have been hands-on in their customer service and why you should also start this gesture to satisfy your own customers:

Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group

With a lot of businesses under his belt, you think Richard Branson would have no time to greet his staff even. Quite the contrary, he ensures that his employees are in tune with his companies’ customer service values by pretending to be a customer himself and experiencing firsthand how they deal with Virgin customers. Some of the things he did, to see if their Virgin customer support is efficient, is to call their customer service and demanded to speak with Richard Branson.
And he even noted observations about their Virgin flights as a customer himself to be immediately addressed. The Virgin Group CEO suggests those in business leadership to check on how their support staff is doing by evaluating it from the perspective of the customers.

Girish Mathrubootham, CEO and Founder of FreshDesk

Before becoming FreshDesk’s CEO, Girish Mathrubootham started off as a customer support person in Zoho (also a SaaS company). He said that his career was established being a customer support person as he climbed up the ranks until he became a manager and handled customer support teams. This inculcated culture is where his “CEO on Support” rooted from. He recommends that CEOs talk to customers “to get a sense of reality.”
When they started to run CEO on Support, they discovered that although not all CEOs may do it, many find the value of doing customer service as part of their roles in managing the company. His company has created the Twitter hashtag #CEOonSupport and its website to collate CEO stories that provided customer support themselves and took away valuable experiences in assisting customers. And he gave vital points why every CEO should also be in the business of customer support in this post.

Jesse Maddox, CEO of TripLingo

For Jesse Maddox, it is important for CEOs to also answer customer support emails to keep customers close as well as to maintain the focus of their customer service. His company TripLingo creates language-learning applications for travelers; and shared that because he has been hands-on with answering emails from customers, he was able to engage with customers, discover critical insights on technical issues, and gained a few fans.
He says that when you have a startup business, you do have the time to assist your customers via email and he has outlined the importance why small business or not, CEOs should start doing this as well.

Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse of America, LLC

Don Fox heads the strategic growth of Firehouse Subs which led to it becoming America’s fast casual restaurant brands. We believe that this success is attributed to Fox being very hands on when it comes to customer service.
It’s like an episode of Undercover Boss where the CEO would disguise himself as a new employee to personally witness how the operations are doing on a regular day, only that Don Fox doesn’t wear a disguise. He actually schedules store visits annually and puts it in top priority.
He also practices “servant mentality” to attend to his employees’ needs and nurturing relationships with them, which also extends to their franchise communities. When the company staff sees their CEO applying the very essence of customer service, they will follow the same practice in their service to customers.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon Inc.

Even with a lot on his plate as CEO of the most outstanding customer service company, Jeff Bezos would take time to read customer feedback. This has given him more insights on how to improve in their overall operation as well as enhance their customer service. He was the one who established that Amazon be a “customer-centric” company and creates innovative approaches to achieve that even if it means being misunderstood. Let us quote this part of his interview about his idea of doing customer service:

Well, I think it’s a couple of things. One is we have a lot of internal stories that we tell ourselves about persistence and patience, long term thinking, staying heads down, focused on the customer even while being criticized.
The second is selection of the people. When they wake up and are thinking in the shower in the morning, they’re thinking about customers, and thinking about how to invent on behalf of customers, and they find that fun. And if you get here, and you find that you get your motivation from having a more competitive-focused culture, you might find our culture dull. We don’t. We find a culture intensely fun.
Some companies, if you wanted to put it into a single word, they have a conqueror mentality, and we have an explorer mentality. And the people who like our mentality of exploration and pioneering, they tend to stay here, and have fun here, and that’s self-reinforcing.” (Source)

To add, there’s transcosmos very own CEO, Richard Patterson.

transcosmos may not be as high profile as the companies mentioned above, but this business has been around for over 20 years because of the dedication and involvement of our Board of Directors and Management committee. Our CEO, Richard Patterson, has immersed himself not only in transcosmos business operations, but also in the lives of its employees and clients. He knows well that transcosmos success is not possible without the people he works alongside with, as well as the clients who continue to place their trust on what we do.

In this article posted at the beginning of the year, Richard says:

“When transcosmos was founded in 1991, we didn’t expect it would expand to the global company that it is today. We started with providing personalised IT and customer support services to UK companies, covering a wide range of European languages; and as we learned the ins and outs of the business, we saw a window of opportunity to expand our efforts globally.
Soon, transcosmos opened operations in Hungary and the Philippines, set up offices in the USA and France, and transformed into a global company. Because of this, we are now able to effectively support clients in US, Europe and Asia, and cater to multilingual customers over 100 countries around the world.
It’s pretty intense, but none of this would have been possible if we chose to remain in the comforts of our British island. Sure, we are proud to be a British company, not a doubt about it. “Made in Britain” products and services are guaranteed high quality and world class, and we bring to our clients all of the great things people expect of us. Our management capability, our innovation, our corporate governance, our professionalism and skills—all of these reflect our British roots which we wear on our sleeves with pride.
But more than that, we are also proud of the people we employ around the world who equally bring special skills and expertise to our services and clients, and the cultural diversity that Britain has always encouraged.”

In conclusion, being hands-on with your customer service will exhibit the very heart of your business, not only for your customers but your employees too. And when they see that CEOs would take time to listen to their concerns and extend an extra mile to serve them, then you can be assured that these same customers and employees will only have high praises for the kind of customer service you offer.
Any other CEOs you can add to this list?