I strongly believe in listening to customers to make your company successful. Fred Reichheld brings this down to a simple formula by asking customers whether they would recommend a certain product or company to their family and friends, providing a simple metric of customer satisfaction. If you're interested in the idea, read his blog, where you can also download the first chapter of his book "The Ultimate Question".
So what do you do to make your company truly customer-centric? David Hersh's recent post tells us about a customer adoption program, the idea being that senior executives adopt customers and act as a free implementation consultant to them. As a result, they find out from a grass-root level what works and what doesn't. Unless things go horribly wrong, these customers should make great reference customers.
This is a fantastic idea, but it is only bound to work in corporations where the culture and senior executives embrace the concept. At AOL, each employee, including the CEO, needs to spend one day a year in the corporate call center that is gets calls from customers who want to discontinue service. This is a great program to ensure that corporations know and cater for their customers.