The History of Customer Service | Understanding with Unbabel


The oldest documented
customer service story takes us back to 1750 B.C. in Mesopotamia, the cradle of Western civilization. A man named Nanni bought copper ingots from a merchant named Ea-nasir. Turned out the product
was mediocre and so, as one historically did,
Nanni sent messengers through enemy territory
to claim his refund. Ea-nasir wasn’t having it. He sent the messengers home empty handed. Thus, the first customer service
complaint ticket was born. Fast forward a few thousand years to 1876, and it wasn’t fists that
were being exchanged, but radio signals. This was the year that
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, single-handedly changing the way customers
interact with businesses. Well, not at first. Early telephones were sold in pairs and could only call each other. The real game changer came in 1894 with the advent of the switchboard. If you were lucky enough to have been born into an American family wealthy
enough to own a telephone, complaining got a whole lot easier. The slow and steady
democratization of customer service continued through the 1950s,
skyrocketing in the ’80s, the golden age of call centers. Eventually, they kingdom
of voice was confronted by a new power, online support in the form of email, live chat, and social media. Today, businesses have
swapped out switchboards for CRMs like Intercom or Zendesk. And automated support,
especially with chat bots, has begun to take off. But consumers still prefer phone support for critical issues. We likely have one more
customer service revolution ahead of us, self service. Businesses aren’t just investing
in help centers and FAQs to slim down operations. Customers often prefer
finding the answers they need on their own terms and own time. A well-crafted help center means agents get more time to work on complex issues that call for their human
touch and expertise. It’s precisely this blend of artificial and emotional intelligence that will redefine customer
service going forward.

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