I have worked in, and been a part of customer services all my working life. I started working when I was 14, as a Pontin’s Saturday Porter. I’ve written a previous article on what it was like and some of the challanges and learnings from that - http://martinsummerhay.livejournal.com/29257.html
I would argue that Customer Service is one of the oldest professional activities there is. I checked - via the wonderful world of Wikipedia - on what the ancients would consider as professional activities and the following would appear to be a reasonable listing:
Hunting, Farming, and generally providing food for the family - started out as the basic need of the family,but very early in human evolution, it became a business
Builders - whether it was as part of the family, extended family or community
Music & Storytellers - professional musicians probably came along quite early in the evolution of society
Weapons maker & dealers - I’d have liked to have been one of these!
Doctor, Healer, herbalist
Tailors, makers of clothes, weavers
Bankers or lenders of money
Merchants who bought and sold goods and services
Jewelers and makers of fine artifacts
and yes, the infamous idea that prostitution is the second oldest profession.
Think back on the list I’ve just given you above and reflect for a moment.
These professional activities are still in existence today, they have been in existence for millennia and I am sure will continue way into the future as human led; human to human engagements. Even with the power of the internet, computing, Machine-2-Machine technology, the Internet of Things and nano-computing, I believe that most of these activities will still be human led.
NOTE: If you believe that the list is wrong; that I have left out significant professions or that there is a more rigorous definition; please do add your feedback through the comments at the bottom of the article.
And for each and every profession, there is the need, the requirement; in fact, the necessity, to ensure that customer service is at the heart of their activities.
The blog post from Seth Godin that I previously referenced and linked to below; talks to a number of factors that drive customer service. The list he created, I feel is lacking in a number of areas. After all, he talked about the uses of customer service as if it was a separate element of the way that companies, organisations, NGO’s and even governments - interact with their customers, clients or people.
It is not. It is at the heart, the soul, of how you, your colleagues, your team, your organisation, your company, your eco-system, your tribe; interact with the most important part of your business, THE CUSTOMER.
After all, it is the customer that ultimately pays for the service you have provided and enables the organisation to exist.
In this journey we are going to undertake together, I am going to peal back the layers on a number of key topics and explore what they are, any associated theories, practical examples from business [Business to Business - B2B and Business to Consumer - B2C], the latest research and key learnings. Some of the topic areas will include:
# What customer service is and what it is not;
# How you design for a customer experience;
# What customer experience design is;
# Customer journey mapping;
# Developing customer loyalty;
# Customer process design;
# Outside in services;
# Customer culture and behaviours and how critical it is to understand these;
# Customer expectation management;
# How competitors impact what you do and how you differentiate through customer experience;
# Brand strategies and its impact on customer experience;
# Different types of service strategy that drive customer service;
# Benefits and outcomes you might expect and try to give;
# Finally, Real world examples and best practices for you to follow.
Please feel free to add to the list or make further suggestions by adding comments at the end of this article. After all, as a journey we are going to go on together, I want to ensure we all get the most out of the world of customer service and customer experience design.
As always, I leave you with a quote to reflect upon.
“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe