Customer Service. What does that mean, anyway? The term has become so specialized over time, especially at big companies, that often it refers more to the department that provides it than to the support itself.  Some have lost sight of the fact that customer service is integral to every role at a company. And if you’re not supporting customers directly, your job is to support the people who are.

Graphics by @SunniBrown. Photo taken during the Dell Customer Advisory Panel event in Round Rock, Texas on June 15, 2010.

So how do we get back to a state where customer service is not just important, but is the cornerstone for the products and services a brand delivers?

At Dell our goal is to help answer that question. Dell is hosting a Customer Service Think Tank on June 25, 2012 in Austin, TX -- a gathering of peers in the service and support arena as well as influencers who specialize in it. The group will discuss best practices and innovations in customer support as well as how organizations can adopt support models that better support their customers. Although Dell is hosting the event, it’s focused on the holistic service and support industry, not on Dell products or technologies.

The event will be moderated by Jackie Huba, founder of the Church of the Customer blog and co-author of two books on customer loyalty.  Other participants include members from Intuit, Citrix, Nationwide Insurance, and Wells Fargo as well as customer experience experts like Liz Strauss and Becky Carroll.

You can follow the event in Twitter at #WinningService, and tune into the live-stream to listen in live..

9:00 -10:00 am (all times in CST): Welcome, introductions, review goals for the day  

10:00 - 11:15am: Social Service. How to integrate social into the service mix, how to scale social service, how to deliver consistent service across social and traditional channels. We will discuss the challenges with social service as well as solutions and best practices.

11:30am - 12:30pm: Internal Challenges.  How to bring together customer service, marketing, PR and corporate communications for the good of the customer experience.  How organizational culture and values affect customer service.  How to get the rest of the business to see service as a sales tool.  We will discuss internal service challenges as well as solutions and best practices.

1:30 - 2:45 pm: Break-out topics. We will use this time to break out into small groups to discuss topics that the group is most interested in, unconference-style.  Topics could include: mobile, metrics, tools and technology, etc.

3:00 - 4:00pm: The Future of Service: What will customer service look like 3-5 years from now?  What are the game-changing trends that will affect how we deliver service?  How will we best prepare and capitalize on these changes?

4:00 - 4:30pm– Closing remarks

Dell is pleased to host this event, and we’re hoping you’re able to follow along in the discussion as well.