An inscribed clay tablet, kept in the British Museum, is widely believed to be the world’s first recorded customer service complaint. Inscribed are the frustrations of a disgruntled customer, demanding a refund for the delivery of the wrong grade of copper. While there is no record of how the complaint was resolved, we can almost be certain it was a long shot away from the customer service methods businesses use today.

From clay tablets to contact centers, there have been countless new developments in the customer service industry. Each new technology promises to outperform the rest and set the new standard in service. In this rapidly evolving landscape, some channels are struggling to remain relevant, while others (like the legendary clay tablet) have long since become obsolete.

The pace of change is unremitting. Even as recently as the dawn of the new millennium, for example, technologies such as video calling and SMS text messaging were hailed as the ‘next big thing’ in the customer service industry. While there have been many successful implementations of these technologies, they are not as widespread as technologists and futurists would have had us believe in the noughties.

Indeed, much of what we formerly believed about the future of customer service has since been proven incorrect. Artificial intelligence has yet to take over, and recent forays with bots have shown that fully automated service is not always the best solution for a quality customer experience.

So, what does the future hold for customer service? And which technologies have businesses laid to rest as customer needs have evolved? In this infographic, we explore the highs and lows of new contact centre innovations, and how customer service technology has advanced since the days of inscribing stern words on to soft clay tablets.

The customer service graveyard

Full-size infographic available for download here.