Customer Service

Resources for Improving Customer Service Department Operations

  • What is Customer Service?

    Effective customer service extends beyond merely responding to customer complaints. Ideally, good customer service should attempt to eliminate, or at least reduce, the issues with goods and services that cause complaints. Additionally, today’s most effective customer service groups have begun to reward customers for loyalty and continued business. Increasing choices and customization have generated fierce competition to attract and retain customers. In today’s hyper-competitive market, customer service can be as important to a company’s success as the product or service it sells.
  • The History of Customer Service

    Customer service is as old as sales, since the key to maintaining a presence in the marketplace is to ensure the satisfaction of customers. Few companies who do not have monopoly control can remain competitive for long if they fail to keep their customers happy. Throughout most of history, sales were made in person and effective customer service relied on direct interactions between buyers and sellers. Producers and sellers knew, and were known by, their customers on a personal level. With the development of less-personal purchases, both in the form of larger stores in which employees and customers could no longer make a direct connection and the development of mail-order purchases, sellers needed to create new methods by which to ensure the satisfaction of their customer base.

    By the early 20th century, the telephone offered a solution to the problems created by less-personal sales. The telephone gave customers a path to contact both large sellers and distant producers more directly and conveniently. The increased communication made manufacturers and salesmen more responsive to the complaints and desires of their customers and helped not only to increase the effort to provide effective customer service, but also to gather the information necessary to develop new and better products and services. The development of the touch-tone telephone in the 1960s and the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System in the 1970s increased businesses’ ability to handle significant customer call volumes and fostered an expansion of customer service groups. In the 1990s,companies began to develop dedicated help desk or customer service call centers to route and handle all inbound calls more effectively, allowing them to resolve service issues more quickly and thoroughly. The development and widespread use of the Internet by the end of the 20th century established email communication as a new and efficient means of customer communication.
  • Modern Trends in Customer Service

    Technology continues to drive changes in the development of customer service organizations and methods of operation. The rapid expansion of social media as a form of communication has created new opportunities to communicate with customers, both directly and in groups. The possibilities for further development and innovation are both vast and exciting. More thorough exchange of information between customers, producers and sellers should only increase the extent to which businesses can respond to variations in customer demand, both for new product development and customer satisfaction. Increasing customization, however, generates additional pressures on businesses, and customer service groups in particular. Customer service groups will need to ensure efficient and effective operations to maintain and increase customer satisfaction and retention.

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