Gerry McGovern in his fantastic post titled "The customer is the meme":
Technology, as it is being used by many organizations, is creating a barrier to entry. It’s not a barrier to entry for competitors, but rather for customers. It’s harder for employees to get out to the customer and it’s harder for customers to get into the organization.
That’s because relationships are seen as a cost. While potential customers are seen as an opportunity, current customers are seen as a cost to be managed down. Organizations are doing everything possible to reduce the points where employees and customers interact. The result, taken to its extreme, is a type of disconnected, sterile efficiency. The result, from a customers’ perspective, is disloyalty and the desire to switch.
The remedy to this problem is qualitative research backed up with quantitative results, so you can get the user back to the center of operations. McGovern talks about the discrepancy as an empathy gap, which is just right:
Whatever the method you choose, you must find a way to bridge the empathy gap that is widening into a chasm between many organizations and customers.
They ought to put their employees skills to good use—they themselves are customers in other organizations, and know exactly how infuriating it can be to feel marginalized in a service situation. Many organizations think they are the sun in their customers' universe when they are really an unexplored dwarf planet with a hard-to-pronounce name somewhere in the fringes.