My once beloved X-box 360 recently experienced the "Red Rings of Death", three red flashing lights experienced by millions of unfortunate victims of Microsoft's first to market strategy. Although my repairs are covered, I came out of the phone conversation no longer enchanted with the X-box brand.
I don't blame the customer service reps for negative interactions, I blame the companies for lack of marketing acumen and leadership. Someone smart said "Every problem is a opportunity in disguise". Every customer support call is an opportunity to create good will and a positive experience with a brand. And yet often these brand interactions are outsourced or lack a strong strategy, resulting in loss of many valuable customers who take their life time value elsewhere.
Although some people say "Customer Service is Dead"(Tom Asaker), I don't believe customer service is extinct. Nordstrom and Southwest shows us it is possible and not expensive. Customer service can be one of the greatest marketing tools in retaining loyal and evangelizing customers. It takes leaders who are willing to invest in service and develop a well conceived strategy, and that just may make the world a little bit better.