Customer service is an intrinsic part of consumer businesses. Since the early days of trade, sellers of products have recognized the importance of satisfying customers’ needs to ensure repeat business and attract new customers. Providing service to customers covers every step of the customers’ journey, from product research to purchase decision and to post transaction. Customers base their opinions of companies on how they are treated by customer service representatives and also by the efficiency and effectiveness of the customer service process. If they are treated well and their needs are satisfied, they will give good reviews, tell others of their positive experience, and continue to purchase products from the company.
There is no one set time during which the customer service industry originated. Technological innovations and developments have helped the customer service industry to reach more people than ever before and to address their specific needs in a timely manner. Customer service has evolved and improved in synch with developments such as the telephone, customer service call centers, and computers and the Internet, leading to e-mail and live chat with customer service representatives. The growth of social media has also turned a brighter light onto companies’ customer service practices; many people now share their good or bad customer service experiences by posting their comments on social media and Web sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Yelp, and/or directly on the companies’ websites.
Many companies outsource their customer service, meaning their customer service is handled by a third-party company. In many instances the customer service department may be based in a different country from the companies’ location. Statista reports that in 2017 (the most recent data available), the global size of the outsourced customer service market was estimated to be nearly $72 billion and was projected to increase to nearly $83 billion by 2020.