Customer service is one of the most important aspects of any business. Few businesses can provide poor customer service and still expect to keep their customers coming back. Customer service is vital to the continued healthy growth of a company. Many businesses that you wouldn’t automatically think about needing a customer service department actually devote a lot of time and money on continued customer service improvement.
Electric companies are considered natural monopolies. A natural monopoly is an industry in which the cost of building and maintaining multiple infrastructures impedes profits and competition. Many people do not realize that these utility companies are highly regulated by the government in many states.
In order to meet the needs of consumers many electric companies offer online bill pay, green power options and budget plans which help to reduce monthly bills. They’re also required by law to provide customers with reliable service at reasonable rates in exchange for a guaranteed profit margin. Failure to meet customer service obligations can result in an intrusive investigation which in turn can result in large fines that cut into shareholder profits.
The electric company needs to keep customers happy with great service to avoid governmental intervention and upsetting their shareholders.
The US Post Office
The US Post Office is the oldest communications service in the country. From the beginning they have been customer service oriented. But competition has become fierce. Fed-Ex, UPS, and DHL have all taken a substantial share of the package delivery sector. Email has taken the place of snail mail. They’ve worked hard to compete; dropping delivery boxes off, offering online package tracking and package insurance.
In March of 2011, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe announced to the House oversight subcommittee on postal service that the post office would run out of money by the end of the fiscal year in October if immediate corrective action isn’t taken. The problem, according Donahoe, is the required payments to the retiree fund of $5.5 billion dollars per year. Donahoe sees the challenges faced by the budget crunch as a marketing opportunity. “We think there is plenty of growth available in standard mail, in the package market and other new products,” he said.
In the last decade there’s been an explosion of growth in online universities. Much of this is due to offering flexibility in terms of class schedules, convenience and ease of access. There’s also a lot of competition among these schools. Not only does an online university have to help with education funding they also have to provide great technical assistance, respond quickly to emails and student concerns and do their best to help a student succeed without ever meeting the student face to face.
Many online learning programs target students 35 and over who are going back to school after a long break. Many of these students have responsibilities traditional students don’t typically have, such as families and full-time jobs. They may also not be as technically inclined as their younger traditional school counterparts. As a result, technical assistants and a quickly responsive and knowledgeable call center are important to an online schools ability to retain students.
Online universities with the best service and student support will gain the lion’s share of new distance learning students.
One doesn’t typically think about customer service when they make a 911 call. However, customer service is the fundamental bases of emergency responders. Their job is to respond quickly to a call and provide highly skilled services to those in need.
Emergency responders are typically employed by the state and funded by taxpayers. As a result, poor service can become a highly politically charged issue, especially during major election years. More importantly, if emergency responders don’t take their service seriously lives could be at stake. Customer service for an emergency responder isn’t just a department or call center located in a remote place, it is the job itself.
The business landscape is flooded with many different businesses offering the same products and services. Customer service lies at the heart of every successful business. Those with poor customer service typically won’t survive in an atmosphere with so many choices. Even in sectors where consumer choice is limited a company is unlikely to survive for very long if their customer service fails to meet consumer standards.
Photo by Ghost of Sahsa