How Listening to the Customers Saved a Company

Michele Richman | March 3, 2011

In the recent issue of Inc Magazine, Bill Crutchfield, founder of Crutchfield Electronics Company, credits his customers with teaching him everything and saving his business. Crutchfield shares two experiences where he went to his customers to understand why his company was losing money and doing poorly overall. In the first instance, he sent customers and non customers a questionnaire asking for feedback on his products and the second time he listened in on customer calls and read letters from disappointed customers. After reviewing the feedback from his customers and prospective customers, he created Crutchfield’s 3 core beliefs which have allowed his company to avoid layoffs throughout its 37 year history (he currently has an annual sales of $250 million and 500 employees). These 3 beliefs are: 1) Exceed customer’s expectations; 2) Maintain passion for continuous improvement; and 3) Treat co-workers with dignity and respect.

Similarly at, we are privileged to have our customers provide us with extremely helpful feedback on a daily basis through many different avenues. 1) In Person: Our customer service representatives hear directly from customers about what they like about our product and how we can improve. 2) Course comments: Our customers notify us on how to improve our products, specifically regarding when certain courses are outdated, not applicable to their particular state, or when they would like us to repeat courses with a talented faculty member. 3) Feedback directly to Faculty Members: Our faculty members are often approached at courthouses by our customers notifying them how much they learned from their programs. As long as we continue to listen to what our customers have to say about our product, like Crutchfield, will thrive financially and remain a great place to work for its employees.

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