Entrepreneurship is one of the fastest growing segments of our economy with individuals taking a leap of faith to take action on their great idea.

As a marketing consultant and coach, I have worked with a number of entrepreneurs who take the leap of faith after honing their skills and experience in corporate life and then transition to self employment. A great way to learn from experience on the how to’s for building a successful business.

Throughout recent months, I have started a video/podcast series as follow up to the guest blog where we provide a marketing platform introducing the person behind the logo.  An opportunity to get up close and personal with both our customers and teams to create a human connection.

We all invest time and money into the creation of our visual image.  Logo’s, corporate colours, marketing materials, promotions and incentives to connect with our target market. This investment is intended to create a brand image that both introduces our product and services while connecting us in support of our customers within our communities. There is significant amount of time and money invested in the process.

I have read a few recent articles about CEO’s who have taken a very proactive approach to connecting with their customers during these challenging times.  Encouraging those who would like to discuss corporate policies or procedures during COVID to contact them directly.   In fact, a few provide their personal email address or cell phone number to discuss concerns and welcome suggestions from patrons.

Brilliant leadership!  

A truly amazing example of how we not only connect with our customers but support our teams and commit to encouraging new conversations within our networks.

Unfortunately, this weekend I experienced an interesting approach from a multi-national coffee chain.  While waiting in-line for over 15 minutes I noticed that the same customer was at the cash….conversing with the employee and chit-chatting about a number of personal issues.  The folks in-line were becoming impatient, and beginning to display visual signals of discomfort and annoyance at the wait time.  The sales person was oblivious.  Now, this is not an example of poor customer service training, although many of the regular customers in line may argue that point.  One even commented to me, do they not train staff to politely move a customer who is taking more time than necessary out of the line and over to a non paying area to chit-chat? 

Good point!

When I approached the team members, I asked for the contact information for the corporate CEO. I am one of those folks who believe that you can’t fix something if you are not aware of the problem.  A proactive approach to providing feedback to an organization that you wish to support in the community.

The response:  “We are not allowed to provide any information about our CEO – if you want to google the company name you may find some information on-line.”  Seriously?  I was shocked.

In today’s day and age what type of leadership message does this send to both employees and customers? 

As we continue to find new and innovative ways to build our businesses and support revenue streams why would any corporate CEO choose to become detached from the customer?  Especially when we are all having to become more patient, resilient and supportive when making a purchase.

The impatience grew in line to the point where and a few customers walked away and left the store, choosing to use their purchasing power to buy somewhere else.  

To the credit of the employee, they were willing to provide the name, email address and phone number for the district manager and very politely offered that information.  I suppose an alternative to the question when asking for the CEO.  A work-around to a corporate policy that is obviously very well communicated to all team members. The CEO is “persona non grata.” 

At this point, I’m not sure that going the extra mile to connect will make any difference to an organization with a leader who feels it is necessary to hide behind the logo and disconnect from the very people who support their company and the many jobs within the community.

One may argue that every organization deserves a second chance to make a positive impression? What I find more unsettling, is the lack of support to the front line team that connects with the customers on a daily basis by not offering the training and support they need to provide the level of customer service that supports their brand message.

This will be an interesting case study to share with clients on the role of a CEO.  One option as a customer… follow the lead from the others who left the store and take your business elsewhere. The question one might then ask, how much of your advertising dollars will be spent on winning back one loyal customer? 

What do you think? 

Trish Tonaj is a Master Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certifed in EQ – Emotional Intelligence, Author, Mentor and Speaker. She is the founder and guest blog host for shareyourstories.online a portal in support of the entrepreneurial spirit and sharing great ideas.  Subscribe to the network and join us with your story!