When most people think of customer service, they picture an impersonal call center near Mumbai, or a computerized system that struggles to understand the caller’s question and leaves the consumer screaming to speak with a human. Such unhappy images still exist. But—driven by the internet, mobile devices, social media, company apps and a growing army of Millennial consumers—customer service is changing dramatically. At its best, it is a 24/7 interaction with customers that can take place in a store, on a mobile app, in a tweet, or in an online chat. This engagement is producing reams of data that help companies serve customers better. It is also empowering consumers, who now have considerably more information and choice when it comes to making a purchase. But questions remain: Does good customer service translate into good financial results? Is it important to improve the quality of service employees to achieve a good customer experience? Does social media improve customer service?read full report
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Demonstrators protest the merger of cable providers Time Warner and Comcast in Los Angeles last year. The merger was canceled, in part because of concerns about customer service. (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)