Customer Service is expensive.

I’ve picked on Verizon Wireless for the last couple of days, and they deserve it. I went so far as to rename The Answer Guy’s Customer Service Wall of Shame to The Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame in their honor; it really does feel as though Verizon Wireless is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the entire economy of the USA, and the more you look into just how bad things have become at Verizon Wireless the more you see that there’s no bottom in sight.

But no matter how bad things seem, it’s important to remember that because customer service costs money, it’s a cost center. The question becomes how you define and handle your business processes.

Last week, this piece at TechCrunch asked “why AOL is still charging people for e-mail”. It made me think of a piece I wrote here a couple of years back; a woman couldn’t understand where her “Free Wi-Fi” had gone.

People don’t “get” technology; computers are hard. But so’s business. If you’re AOL and earning many millions of dollars each month providing your customers a service they’ve stopped using, are you responsible for telling them they don’t need it any longer?

Morals and ethics are hard to talk about, especially in a business context; mine may not match yours. So with AOL not being able to make money using their new content-farm business model, it’s hard to fault them for wanting to hold onto their old-model revenue for as long as they can.

On the other hand, in the same world that AOL’s trying to live in now, this kind of question can get asked and passed around better than ever. If you’re still paying AOL for dial-up Internet access and not using it, for goodness’ sake call them and stop.

And that’s what business change is about.

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