Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Carolyn Scott

Second Advisor

Michael Kraemer

Third Advisor

Thomas Dehner


The term customer service has changed in meaning over the years. There was a time when it suggested an unpleasant experience for both the customer and the business. Employees tried to avoid complaints because they weren't educated in how to handle them. Over time, customer service evolved into a much broader meaning as companies noticed that the leaders in their industry provided service as part of the sale. When companies began to change their own way of doing business, they began to see profits associated with offering service with the sale, and they found that it can be the "secret weapon" to gaining the competitive edge.

Companies started to view customer complaints as opportunities to correct problems. They discovered that superior service actually can be more effective than marketing at enhancing volume and profit. However, they learned that delivering quality service is difficult to achieve, and the kind of service that makes a positive, lasting impression on customers takes more than simple courtesy. They also found it very difficult to build the day-to-day consistency of service necessary to sustain their customer base.

The realization that exceptional service is required to get and keep customers in today's competitive marketplace sent companies on a search for help. They found a myriad of literature and training programs, and as they explored them, they soon realized that their real challenge was in getting a commitment, first from their management teams, then from the front-line employees responsible for delivering customer service. Businesses found it critical that they reassess how they manage their relationships with their internal customers, their employees, before they could effectively service their external customers, the consumers. Often management didn't buy into the theory, and front-line employees weren't interested in providing service. Some companies found that they needed to "clean house" and start over. Of course, rarely is that possible, so they were faced with trying to remold the thinking patterns and practices of many of their current employees.

Companies that have successfully put effective customer service practices into place have been rewarded with customer loyalty, increased sales and profit, fewer complaints, improved employee morale and productivity, less employee turnover, and savings in marketing, advertising, and promotion budgets.

This project provides an in-depth study of the strategies proposed by noted authors and teachers in the field, and explores the successes experienced by leading companies. Using the approaches recommended by the authors, teachers, and leading companies, it provides guidelines for achieving complete customer satisfaction in business today. Finally, it concludes with personal experience both as a customer service professional and as a consumer.