I have worked in customer service in various ways for much of my professional life, whether officially in a Customer Service department or not. Customer facing positions all have a customer service facet whether you are physically facing the customer or interacting with them on the phone or electronically and regardless of the department in which you work.
It seems as though most people think of call centers – rows upon rows of small cubes with a person hooked up to a phone, churning calls – when customer service is mentioned.
When I am the customer calling in with a specific question or issue, I rarely feel as though I’ve been provided a service at the end of the call, rather it seems more like I’ve been checked off as another task of that day. Responded to x number of customer calls today – check. (Note that I did not say resolved.)
Admittedly, I have not ever worked in a call center therefore I can only speak from the position of a customer and not from both sides of this equation. I would think that call centers should be one form of service provided to customers, at least were originally developed with this intent.
At some point in their development businesses need to have customers in order to thrive, whether those customers are the general public or business to business interaction. Preferably a high volume of repeat customers since there is plenty of evidence that it is more cost effective to retain an existing customer than to continuously find new customers. Customers require attention designed specifically to address their needs, hence Customer Service.
Customers do not like to be treated like a number. People who work in Customer Service have experience as customers themselves upon which to draw. Further people who stay in Customer Service throughout their career usually have high empathy and a true interest in problem solving.
I don’t have a conclusion to the question that I posed in the title, do you?
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