What is Customer Service?

Jul 29, 2010

I’ve never taken one of those Rorschach tests. You know the psychological test in which you’re shown a series of inkblots and are supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind? These are supposed to evaluate your personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

So, what’s the first thing that popped into your head when you saw the title of this post? I’m guessing your immediate thoughts went to something to do with the effort it took to get your latest utility billing issue resolved, or waiting around the house “between 8am and 7pm” for the cable guy that never showed. And that’s tragic. Its a tragedy that so many organizations continue to be satisfied with letting this be how their customers view customer service.

We had a lively chat in our weekly #custserv gathering two weeks ago on Twitter. The topic was “Is Customer Service the New Marketing?” While I don’t believe the answer to that question is “yes”; and the reasons why are for another post. It became clear in that conversation, that the above visuals are where the vast majority of peoples’ heads go when they think of customer service.

Customer service is not a department. Its not a function. Its not that one floor, non descript brick building rising up in the middle of an Iowa corn field.

I’m in customer service. I’m a technologist that works in a contact center BPO. My number one objective is to serve my customers, both internal and external. Notice I didn’t say “service my customers”. My customers aren’t cars coming into the dealer for a 30,000 mile check up. They are valuable partners in my business, that I do well to serve. In return, they provide value back.

In delivering our work, whether you’re a marketer, a financial analyst, a package designer or night security guard, if we all thought more like Craig Newman, who’s business card reads “Founder, CEO & Customer Service Representative – Craigslist”, I think we’d all be better served.