The 90’s called — They want their Customer Service back.

Corporations are getting more and more organized. New apps and CRM (Customer Relationship Managers) applications are slowly conquering the hearts of Small Medium Enterprises. It’s not exclusive of major corporations anymore. There’s a huge interest in knowing what the consumer wants and what to do to deliver, but in the end are we really resolving their problems?

In 2001, when I started working in customer care, the culture around customer support was already well implemented. Vodafone started the revolution around 1992 in Portugal, when they offered a 24/7 customer support model to their customers.

The fact that you could dial a number and had your issue resolved in a snap of a finger seemed almost too magical to be ignored. This changed dramatically how most companies operated. No one wanted to stay in a big queue, waiting for the chance to raise their voice. All companies no matter how small they were, wanted to have new ways of providing support.

Since 2001, i’ve watched a few changes in how the service was delivered. The speech tones become less robotic and more relaxed. First call resolution become a priority with the demand of more and more customers ringing. Call backs were being made when a call dropped.

Then everything changed. Customer support, become something more than “everything for the customer” but only numbers. Numbers that needed to be decreased by becoming more efficient using fewer resources, the cheaper, the better.

Times were different though.

In 2011, I’ve moved to Ireland and seen a complete different mind-set. The golden years of the Celtic tiger were over and people were still adjusting to this new reality. A simple broadband request took more than 45 minutes divided by 2 or 3 breaks of 5 minutes on hold. Electricity and Gas weren’t any different.

As a small market with high demand, companies didn’t worry too much. You can see it on a daily basis. If you want to rent a house and you call the agency, if the contact advertised is not around, you’ll be lucky to receive a call back. And then expect half of Dublin for the viewing. In the end it’s all about being lucky at the auction.

Even though there’s a concern about what the customer wants, enterprises are still reluctant to change. There’s not a lot of competition and so they control the market as they please.

Investment is injected in getting professionals with experience without realizing that without the right tools that same investment will be in vain.

As a result, customers are penalized heavily with poor customer service and a complete lack of solutions. On the other side of the fence, employees won’t feel appreciated and sooner or later will leave into companies that care about making their resources work more effectively.

Most companies still think they operate in an effective way, without understanding why the NPS (Net Promoter Score) is low and the detractor levels, an absolute disgrace.

The reason why is because in general, as consumers, we don’t complain enough. We rather become frustrated instead of demanding a better service. Only then you can expect a change.

At this stage, you already have new IT companies launching tailored customer solutions tools, eager to get companies on board at low prices based on the amount of users. Everything is integrated and simple.

In the end, it’s not only about keeping customers happy but also in making employees enjoy their work. After all, there’s an image at stake. Customer care should be more than a priority, should be a prerequisite.

By the way… the 90’s just called. They want their Customer Service back.