How important is it to set up a customer service department?

Imagine that you are a new company. You are selling an electric gadget. You’ve already set up a pricing scheme and distribution network. You have marketing in place and a couple of reviewers really liked your product.  Should you set up a customer service department?

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The answer is yes, you should. What will inevitably happen is that someone will not be happy with your product. Or a product will be defective. If you do not have a way to address these issues, potential customers will be turned off.  One unhappy customer can lead to an unhappy review, which then can generate negative word of mouth. Companies need to be able to address  and try to correct any issues.

This situation is being played out right now. As you may have heard, Google just released a new smart phone, the Nexus One. However, Google is not a company that has ever put out a physical product before. Up to now, their product has been online advertising, and other Internet  offerings.

As the Times of the Internet reports in the article Google  Nexus One Reviews Coming In-Does Google Have Customer Service:

Google Inc has made it’s money through automation, not through providing hands-on customer service.

That’s one big weakness that Google will have to address if they plan on dominating a technological product like a SmartPhone.

Clearly, with a physical (and complicated) product, Google will have to deal with customers who have questions or complaints. Will email be enough?