Humans have discovered trade even before they had a term for it. From trades to businesses to companies to conglomerates, customer service has become an essential part of the operation. Here’s a quick look at the customer service evolution.
The invention of the telephone was the culmination of work done by many individuals, but Alexander Graham Bell is widely credited as the inventor of the first practical telephone. Prior to its invention, customers would have to travel long distances to inquire about a product. The telephone revolutionized communication by allowing people to share information with greater speed and efficiency. It connected people with one another through conversation in real time and without having to see each other face to face.
The telephone was a rare commodity on its first few decades of existence because of its restrictive technology that limits communication between two users. This changed with the invention of the switchboard. The telephone switchboard acted as a hub for all telecommunication activity. This allowed the interconnection of two or more phone subscribers without requiring direct lines between users.
Private Automated Business Exchanges (PABX) began to be used to handle large numbers of customer contacts in the mid-1960s. This marked the emergence of call centers. A call center is an office staffed and equipped to handle a large number of telephone calls using computer technology to assist in the management of calls. This computer technology is the Automatic Call Distributor (ACD). The invention of the ACD technology made the concept of call centers possible. ACD systems filter calls and assigns them to the best possible agent available. It later replaced the human operator with a far more flexible automated system capable of handling a much greater number of calls.
The touch-tone telephone dialing, developed by Bell Labs, was introduced in November 1963 and replaced rotary dialing. It enables calls to be switched digitally and has made new caller features available. Its use now extends far beyond the telephone and can be seen in objects as diverse as ATMs, gas pumping stations, medical equipment, vending machines, etc.
The 1-800 number was invented by AT&T. Prior to this, calls to be billed to the company had to be placed manually through the telephone company. The invention of the 1-800 number resulted in a massive time and cost savings for the company because it freed up the time from thousands of telephone operators.
The Interactive Voice Response or IVR is what you connect to when you dial into a call center. It processes incoming calls, plays recorded messages with information from databases and the internet, and routes calls to agents. Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine handling calls without IVR system support. The IVR technology made it possible for companies to cope with the demand.
It wasn’t until 1989 that outsourcing was considered a formal business strategy. Initially, jobs that were not related to the company’s core functions such as administrative support were the ones outsourced. Later, outsourcing expanded to include information technology and customer service support with small and medium companies joining in the outsourcing bandwagon. Aside from India, other third-world countries have also hopped in the outsourcing market.
In 1991, a computer programmer in Switzerland named Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web. This is an Internet that is not just a way to send and receive files from one place to another but was itself a “web” of information that anyone on the Internet could retrieve. This is the Internet that we know today. The Internet revolutionized the computer and communications world. It has a worldwide broadcasting capability, a mechanism for information dissemination, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computer without regard for geographic location.
The internet paved the way for live chat and e-mail support. This made communication easier by allowing the customer to move on with other tasks while waiting for responses, unlike in phone support that the waiting keeps the customer on hold.
Customer service software provides customers with support and information related to a product or service offered by a company. In the early 2000s, companies began implementing customer support through independent software and help desk solutions which merged to form modern CRM systems.
The first recognizable social media site, Six Degrees, was created in 1997. It enabled users to upload a profile and connect with other users. But it wasn’t in 2008 that social media became a hit with Facebook domination. Customer-oriented businesses saw this as an opportunity to connect with customers in a more personal and at the same time, very public manner.
Remote desktop support is support rendered to access a specific computer/device from another computer/device with the help of networking or internet. Troubleshooting can be easily handled by technical experts without the need for online visits.
The customer service evolution does not end here. It is always changing and it is important for companies to keep up and adapt to changes. The key is to be updated with the market trends in order to reach the consumers in the way that they prefer.
Infinit Contact prides itself on delivering high-level customer service. If you want to know more about how your contact center can stay ahead of the curve, contact Infinit-O today.