When I was a kid, there were five channels on TV: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and a local channel. Now there are hundreds of channels, and we can choose the way we want to receive them—via the phone line, cable, satellite dish, etc.

Well, it appears that customer service is going through a similar transformation. There used to be only a handful of ways to communicate with a company. You could call, write or go to see someone. Now there are many ways a customer can communicate with a company, get customer service, purchase merchandise, etc.

Customer service has evolved. Who would have thought “self-help” customer service would be so popular? Websites now make it easy for customers to find answers to their questions. And some companies have even set up “support forums” where customers help other customers!

Then there’s social media. There are more than 243 million active users on Twitter and 1.23 billion on Facebook. And many of them are using these social channels to communicate with companies. If you aren’t interacting with your customers on social media, you competition likely is.

The idea behind customer service isn’t changing, but how we go about it is—and it’s changing faster than ever. And if we can’t adapt to these changes, we run the risk of becoming extinct.

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email shep@hyken.com or go to www.hyken.com.