Do We Really Want Customer Service?

by Jay Deragon on 06/03/2008

Every business has some type of customer support or service center aimed at serving the needs of the customer. The customer service center model has been driven by two things:
  1. Managing common customer issues
  2. Managing uncommon customer issues.

The difference between common and uncommon issues is as follows:

  1. Common issues:things that create common request for assistance from the customer base
  2. Uncommon issues:things that are not common but arise as customer needs on a periodic basis.

As the web becomes more and more transparent companies are just beginning to pay more attention to “the process of customer support”. Case in point:

Marguerite Reardon, of CNET writes: Can broadband do right by customers? “As cable and phone companies slug it out in markets across the U.S., improving customer care is becoming a core part of their strategies.

As cable and phone companies slug it out in markets across the U.S., improving customer care is becoming a core part of their strategies. Now, more than ever, consumers seem to be influenced by their perception of a particular company and their own experience with customer care. What’s more, the Internet has changed things. It used to be that a single disgruntled customer would influence only a few friends and neighbors. But with the advent of blogs and forums all over the Web, unhappy consumers can find a much wider audience, potentially reaching thousands or even millions.

So What Are These Companies Doing to Improve?

Marguerite Reardon of CNET writes: Comcast has hired 15,000 new customer service agents and technicians over the past 18 months to help the company answer calls and provide service to customers. It has also rolled out new high-tech diagnostic tools for agents in the field and at call centers to help better assess problems. Comcast has also started re-dispatching field technicians if it looks like a certain technician may not be able to get to his next appointment.

Customer service agents are also starting to work on Saturdays and Sundays to schedule and serve customers when it’s most convenient for them. And it’s offering real time online chat services so that customers can talk live with a customer account executive.

Verizon’s Maguire said that his company is doing something similar. Like Comcast, Verizon has a team that monitors blogs. And Maguire himself often answers e-mails from customers with complaints as part of what the company calls a “you touch it, you own it” philosophy.

What Could Be An Alternative Socialutions?

Adding people and processes may not be the best solutions. Reducing or eliminating the common problems is likely a less expensive and consumer friendly option. Uncommon problems will always remain and those need human intervention. Common problems simply need to be fixed and the consumer needs common answers to these problems until they are eliminated.

Leveraging social media to engage with customers is also a much less expensive proposition than adding resources. After all, customer don’t even want to deal with customer support since historically it has been such an anti social experience Not having a product or service work means people have to spend their time and attention trying to get it to work when their common expectations are it should work to begin with. . All a customer really wants is for things to work right the first time. When they don’t it is considered anti-social and customer service becomes a negative experience.

Get it? What say you?

{ 1 comment }

Mark Kerrigan June 3, 2008 at 7:30 am

Hmmm. Don’t know if I agree with you here, Jay. Check out my post from today at

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