Swim Naked or Provide Good Customer Service in Bad Times

While the U.S. suffers through declining home prices and rising unemployment, the Nero‘s of economics are tuning up their fiddles while trying to determine if we’re technically in a recession. Forbes reported this week that,

“Regardless of the GDP numbers, data show unambiguous signs of a struggling economy. For homeowners watching prices drop, for the newly unemployed or for businesses with low corporate profits, the current debate over whether the economy is in recession is largely meaningless. What these people want to know is simple: When will it end?

Consumers, apparently worried about rising food and oil prices, are losing hope, canceling vacations and being more careful with their money, as seen in Consumer Confidence Index’s drop for the fourth straight month in a row. “Economists closely watch sentiment readings since consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity,” according to AP. The wire service quotes Gary Thayer, senior economist at Wachovia Securities, who said, “There isn’t a lot for the consumers to be optimistic about.

But in all the gloom and doom there is one ray of light that consumers can enjoy — customer service and support should improve in a recession. And frankly the companies that don’t take steps to improve customer service can — and should — find themselves out of business.  As Warren Buffet, the Sage of Omaha, says, “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.

The good news out today comes from Gartner, who predicts 14.2 percent growth in the CRM industry with revenues expected to top $8.9 billion. This means that CIO’s are cognizant of the fact that even if capital expenditures fall like homes prices in an inflated market, they need to support their customers if they hope to survive. And that means the customer will reap the benefits.

We’ve long referred to customer service and support as “The Forgotten Space.” While it’s a shame that the economic tide had to go out before enterprises remembered this business fundamental, the customers will ultimately get both a free peep show and better service.

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