Listening to the customer becomes even more crucial in economic downturns. It is the company that continues to meet customer needs by creating customer value, even if it means cutting into profits, that will come back quickly once economic conditions improve.
Some of this is seen by watching current tv advertisements. Take for example, LensCrafters, an eyeglass company, who is currently advertising free lenses for children 17 years and under - www.lenscrafters.com. They have reached out to parents at a time before the new school year starts, recognizing that when there is a diminished household budget, children will be a high priority. By drawing the family into the store, they are also building household loyalty, not just that of a single customer. In many households there are multiple members who need corrective vision.
Another example is Sears' protection plan when purchasing appliances, should the consumer lose their job - www.sears.com. Again this program is designed to attract and retain customers.
In both of these examples, the companies are striving to create customer value, which in turn has been shown to result in increased customer loyalty.