Service Takes the Lead

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It likely has become obvious to CRM magazine readers over the past few years that I'm a bit, shall we say, obsessed with customer service. I expect pleasant, efficient in-person and phone transactions. I have no patience for mazelike IVRs that don't allow you to zero out and reach a live human being, and I expect that if a company is going to offer online self-service, the system will be intuitive and information will be easy to find. Deliver a poor experience in any of those areas and I'm happy to take my business elsewhere. I'm not alone. The fact is, customer expectations have been rising and continue to do so. Many businesses recognize this and have reacted accordingly by increasing the proficiency of their service staff, improving their IVRs, implementing newer and better service processes and technologies, and more. Fortunately, service technology vendors have done their part as well, introducing technologies to support these service trends. With all this in mind, our March issue celebrates service excellence with our inaugural Service Awards (page 27), stewarded by Senior Editor David Myron, who oversees our coverage of all things customer service. The awards recognize leadership in two areas: Service Leaders, the top vendors in seven categories (page 28); and Service Elite, the best customer service implementations over the past year in five categories (page 46). "With an eye on cutting costs, increasing revenue, and enhancing customer satisfaction, organizations need to choose the best customer service technology for their enterprise," Myron says. "For this reason it is important to recognize those vendors that have set themselves apart from the rest and are paving the way in customer service technologies. "Our Service Leader Awards recognize the top vendors that organizations should consider when making their purchasing decisions. The criteria used to evaluate each vendor will give some insight into each vendor's stability, market dominance, market growth, and customer satisfaction," he adds. "The Service Elite awards provide readers with real-world examples of how customer service technologies can be used to cut costs, increase revenue, improve productivity, and boost customer satisfaction." The 2004 Service Awards are, however, much more than a statue and a handshake: They're our choices of industry leaders whose expertise you can leverage for your decision-making and benchmarking regarding customer services processes and technologies. So congratulations to the winners of the 2004 Service Leaders and the 2004 Service Elite. May their efforts be rewarded with happy customers and happier shareholders, and more important, may your company benefit from their success.
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