It’s a familiar refrain – organisations are becoming more responsive, quality of service is getting better, customer service is changing. But is it really? Is it being discussed at board level, is it being included as part of an organisation’s strategic objectives, do companies see it as a core function or do they avoid it at all costs?

Social media has made a significant difference to the visibility of customer service outside an organisation, and the rise in home working has opened up the labour market to increased quality call-handlers. But in reality, social media has been driven by customers fed up with shoddy contact-centre experiences, and home working is driven by a desire to reduce cost – so where is the organisation-led change?

There is a glimmer of light, though: the most recent Dimension Data benchmarking survey shows that companies have for the first time put customer-facing metrics above operational ones, with customer satisfaction topping the list of measures that the contact centre uses (with double the score of agent call-handling capacity). So change is happening, but it may be too slow for some organisations: two thirds of consumers state that they are willing to spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service and 66% of global consumers reported switching providers in at least one industry in 2011 due to poor customer service. In times of austerity, we need to fight to keep our existing customers, and give them the experiences that encourage them to spend more with us.

So how do we go about making a change to customer service? It needs to start at the top of an organisation, with a culture of believing that customer service can make a difference. Watch this video where Plantronics Europe & Africa MD, Philip Vanhoutte, talks about his belief in customer service and how it is implemented from the top down within Plantronics.