Tesla’s first customers were proto-typical early adopters who wanted a computer on wheels. By the end of 2012, many were grumbling about the bugs still to be worked out, and sales slowed to a trickle. “The word of mouth on the car sucked,” Musk says. By Valentine’s Day 2013, Tesla was heading toward a death spiral of missed sales targets and falling shares. The company’s executives had also hidden the severity of the problem from the intensely demanding Musk. When he found out, he pulled staff from every department — engineering, design, finance, HR — into a meeting and ordered them to call people who’d reserved Teslas and close those sales. “If we don’t deliver these cars, we are f---ed,” Musk told the employees, according to a person at the meeting. “So I don’t care what job you were doing. Your new job is delivering cars.”
Even a tech visionary recognizes that bleeding-edge tech, without a fervent and enthusiastic customer base, doesn’t amount to much. We launched our wealth management practice in 2013 thinking and focusing primarily on the portfolio strategies we were running. It didn’t take long for us to realize how critical the customer experience aspect was as well – no matter how great an investment product is, clients still need to be taken care of and kept in the loop.
Musk’s all-hands meeting and his sternly delivered resolution may have saved his company at a key juncture. It’s a great lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere.