CE#531: Want to Improve Customer Service? Treat Your Employees Better (Knowledge@Wharton)

Is customer service a lost art, or are today’s customers harder to please?

On the one hand, moments of tear-your-hair-out frustration are commonplace — from shopping in stores where sales associates are nowhere to be found, to dealing with salespeople unable to help locate a sought-after item, to encountering repetitive robotic voice messages that never lead to a live customer service rep. On the other hand, the rise of 24/7 help desks, ubiquitous pop-up bubbles on shopping websites that offer assistance, and the ease with which consumers can dress down businesses in 140-character tweets, have arguably made companies more attentive — and accountable — than ever before.

“We are more demanding,” says Peter Fader, professor of marketing at Wharton and co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative. “We have a ‘customer is king’ mentality, and we have come to expect world-class treatment. We want everything to be easy: simple customer returns, constant telephone access to the company and perfect products in every color. We’re just spoiled, plain and simple.”

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