Customer service has often been viewed as a cost center, so management techniques focus on efficiency and cost controls. But this is an increasingly outdated view. Customer service represents a critical component of the overall customer experience, a touchpoint that can increase or decrease loyalty.

So I want to start by giving a shout out to companies that are delivering consistently excellent customer service. I'll then move on to discuss how customer service links to customer experience and what companies need to do to excel at customer service.