Customer Service Excellence Through the Years

February 14, 2022
Katrina Santa Ana
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Customer satisfaction can make or break businesses, and when customers are unhappy, poor customer service is usually to blame. This is why keeping customer service at the forefront of any business is critical for its survival.

Today, companies no longer shy away from investing in popular new tools that can improve various aspects of customer support. Some of the most useful tools include social media dashboards, automated chatbots, feedback forms, self-service support, and live chat software.

The truth is, there's a vast number of solutions and technologies available for modern businesses looking for ways to improve customer service today and cater to customers of the future.

Let's start with a trip down memory lane where this hasn't always been the case.

The beginnings of customer service

Ever since the beginning of time, a business' primary aim was to provide customers with the best possible products and services. As you can imagine, this wasn't as simple as creating a few ads or billboards. The world was a very different place back then.

Customers had to rely on face-to-face interactions for any kind of support they needed. They had to invest time and effort in traveling long distances to reach stores that sold products they planned to buy. If a customer arrived home only to be unhappy with their purchase, it could take days before they could make the return trip. This put the onus on business owners to make sure customers were happy with their purchases.

The game changed in 1846 when Alexander Graham Bell patented the electric telephone. Customer service took a big step forward. With Bell's invention, customers could now avoid the need to travel long distances for product information or repairs.

This was only the beginning.  In 1888, Almon Strowger invented the electromechanical automatic telephone exchange. By 1894, customers could directly contact companies to make requests, gather information, place orders, arrange for deliveries, or register complaints.

For the next 50 years, this remained the standard way for customers to receive service. The second half of the 20th century ushered in an era that saw companies beginning to use specialized customer support software which gradually replaced help desk solutions and formed the modern CRM systems.

The rise of technology and its impact on customer service

Technology has innovated dramatically in many ways and will continue to do so. With the rise of social media, it's now faster and easier for customers to sing their praises after having an amazing customer experience with a business. However, word of a bad experience can ruin a company's reputation just as quickly.

Not convinced? Let's look at some interesting statistics that show why customer service is so important to the modern customer experience.

  • 72% of customers will share their good experiences with others. (Salesforce)
  • 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020. (Bright Local)
  • After more than one bad experience, around 80% of consumers say they would rather do business with a competitor. (Zendesk)
  • Only 1 in 26 customers will tell a business about their negative experience; according to customer service facts, the rest simply leave. (Esteban Kolsky)

This shows how much customer expectations have evolved over time and how critical it is for companies to understand what their customers need in order to keep them happy and coming back.

Customer service of the future

Customer service is more complex than ever before thanks to technology and the fast pace of modern living. Customers are constantly connected on social media, expect immediate support through live chat, and want online shopping to be as convenient as it is in the physical world. When it comes to their buying decisions, more and more customers are putting weight on not only how a product works, but also how the company selling it makes them feel.

These trends will only gain more momentum over time. If companies want to keep up with evolving consumer needs, they'll need to find new ways to connect with and better serve their customers.

Interested about what the future of customer service looks like? Check out our blog post about the 5 Macro Tech Trends That Will Shape CX in 2022.

Ready to take your customer experience to the next level?