In startups and small companies, it's easy—if not unavoidable—to talk to your customers on a regular basis, but as companies grow and roles become specialized, customer interaction s often limited to one department. At IDEO, business designer Ryan Jacoby discourages this by tracking Time Since Last Contact (TLC): how many days it's been since the team interacted with a customer. While your team's number may vary, Jacoby recommends a TLC score of 5 days or fewer. In addition to frequency, Jacoby also suggests using a "Tier" system to measure the intensity of customer interaction, from firsthand experience with power users (Tier 1) to analyzing secondhand survey data (Tier 3). This consistent consumer research means Jacoby's innovation team can anticipate what the customer wants, even before the customer does.
Takeaway: Measuring TLC, both on an individual and team basis, reinforces how important direct contact is to understanding, and responding to, your customers' needs.