How many customer service people does your company have? How many does it need?

It's an interesting question. Some would say it depends on the size of the company, and they may or may not be right. Some might say it depends on the complexity of the issues that a company might have to address, and they may or may not be correct.

However, legitimately, the real answer should always start here: the number of customer service people a company should need is one. Yup, I've said it,... one.

Why, you may ask? Let's think about it like this. Why do people call customer service to begin with? There are really only 3 answers for this question. One, they call because they want to buy something. Two, they call because they want to know more about something. Three, they call because they have a complaint.

Now, a large company possibly needs someone to grab some calls and then send them to the proper person if it's a sales call. A sales person can only talk to one person at a time, so having someone who will take legitimate messages and pass them on when a sales person is unavailable makes sense. That same sales person usually knows everything about a product or service also, so those same people can answer any questions that may come in about either of those things.

That third one is interesting, though. Sales people don't handle complaints; they always pass them off to someone else. Companies that don't necessarily have sales people but have customer service departments could rename them "complaints" departments, because that's what they're usually fielding. The problem with most companies as it pertains to customer service is that they don't then go about trying to correct the problems the complaints are addressing. Instead, they record phone calls so they can evaluate the customer service representative to see how they handled the call.

As David Goldsmith nicely captured in this particular post on his blog, most of the time complaints are more indicative of a problem within the company than a problem with just one or two customers. If more companies addressed the issues brought up by their customers, there would be fewer complaints, and probably more compliments.

And who doesn't love compliments?