A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the millionth support ticket processed by Groupon’s customer support team. To us, the milestone was so significant, we thought it warranted a flight out to the company’s corporate headquarters in Chicago so we could deliver a giant green cake. When a company can offer that kind of customer support, it truly is an event worth celebrating.

But it seems weird, right? That fielding a huge volume of customer support tickets would be seen as an achievement. It’s easy to see why anyone might conclude that any company that has had to manage more than one million tickets is potentially doing something wrong. Are that many customers complaining on a regular basis?

Of course not. Support is much more than making any disgruntled customers happy. Often, it’s how you keep happy customers, well, happy.

Here’s the thing. There may have been a time when customer service was thought of as an unfortunate, but unavoidable aspect of dealing with the public. But remember people, this is the new commerce – remember all that stuff that’s been written about the engaged consumer, about prosumers, about people having a sense of ownership over the products and services they use? Well, a direct result of that sense of ownership is an increasing dialogue between the company and its customers – one could even go as far as to say that the lines between supplier and consumer have blurred – Groupon, we’re sure, see’s itself as being in a mutually beneficial relationship with its customers.

If you look at customer service through this lens, then high customer support workload (so long as it’s not for recurrent problems or whatever) should be seen as an exciting and positive sign that the organization has reached that nirvana of being engaged with its customers. As we’ve recently pointed out:

All businesses have customers that need extra support. By “celebrating” Groupon’s millionth ticket, we hope to highlight not only Groupon’s explosive growth as a company, but also their attentiveness to any customer who steps forward and requests help. Also, customer service is not just about solving problems or fixing bugs. It’s about helping your customers have the best experience possible. One million tickets is a reflection of Groupon’s commitment to its customers.

So yeah, here’s another heartfelt high-five to Groupon. One million tickets is a positive milestone. In fact, when we delivered the cake, Groupon had actually surpassed 1.25 million tickets, and by now, well, we’re sure the newest grand total would astound us. That kind of customer engagement truly rocks.

We encourage traditional organizations out there to start thinking of customer service not as a negative aspect of your business, but as a truly positive one. Engagement is, after all, the choice of a new generation.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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