Whenever I speak to an audience of customer service professionals, I tell them that in the eyes of the customer their department is the heart and home of the company. It’s rare that customers, especially consumers, ever communicate with anyone outside of customer service to answer a question or solve a problem. To the customer, whoever answers the phone, responds to a text, chat, email or social media post is the company. The voice. The brand!

The average representative speaks to at least 25,000 customers a year. Even a relatively small department might touch 500,000 to a million customers. They help customers resolve issues and answer questions in many cases 24/7. Businesses that are seasonal have extreme peaks, making it even more difficult to manage. In general, customer service departments perform the task of serving prospective and loyal customers well. Hats off for the amazing job they do!

This makes customer service the most important department in the organization. Customer service is one of the foremost areas in any business that can create and build customer relationships. But, frequently they are considered the least valued, corporate-wide. It’s not only not fair; it’s backward-thinking!

For decades handling phone calls was challenging enough, but now consumer service has been “channeled” with handling multi-channel contacts. As customers jump from one channel to another, self-serve to live agent, or any combination thereof, customer service is the one holding down the fort. When social media first arose companies hired outside firms to manage the process and respond directly to customers. In most cases, customer service has taken back this function since they know their customers, product information, and culture better than an outside entity.

In so many instances, executives of contact centers are at the lowest rung of the ladder. We often hear from the C-suite how their corporations should invert the organization chart and place the customer at the top. In reality that’s not possible. Customers do not work for the company. However, representing the customer at every turn are the customer contact centers that own and foster the relationship.

Customer Service should be at the top of the pyramid. Unless your company is a gold mine, customers are the most valuable asset in the company. To the customer, the customer service department is the home of the company. They should report directly to the CEO, have a permanent seat in the Boardroom. They have the data and customer feedback that should be driving the corporate strategy at hand. They keep taking more responsibility. To the customer they are home of the company; clearly the most valuable, important and critical house on the block.

What do you think?