It seems that when many companies want to reduce their costs, they cut back on customer services such as call centers. I suppose the theory goes that since the caller is already a customer (and we have their money) it shouldn't matter that they have to wait an extra few minutes to be helped, or they won't mind if the less-qualified help desk person can't always answer their questions.

Some companies regard the cost and trouble of providing customer service as a necessary evil to do business in a Web 2.0 world where unhappy customers can, with a few keystrokes, share their pain with people around the globe. Their concept of service is like that pretend defense guy's play in pro all-star games.

Yogi Berra once said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." Similarly, you can learn a lot from unhappy customers if you view them as vital feedback sources about product features or company procedures that annoy them. If complaints are consistent, they point to ways to improve future offerings or change how the company operates to create loyal customers instead of angry ones.

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