I watched a news clip from the Today Show last week about Boeing delivering their new Dreamliner 787 to Japan’s ANA airlines. What a beautiful machine, developed over the course of several years (3 years late to be exact) with 100’s of millions of dollars invested.

The new features of the plane are all intended to make flying more pleasurable – 65% larger windows, larger overhead baggage space, brighter, more open cabin, more oxygen to reduce the amount of dry air on the plane, and so on. The Today Show asked the question, “will this really make a difference in the way that people feel about flying?” Even United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek says that if you are delivering poor customer service before you get on the plane it will make no difference in the way people feel about the new Dreamliner 787.

What boggles my mind repeatedly is this: why are companies willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on technology that is not going to make a difference to their valued customers, when they could spend a fraction of cost to improve customer service? No wonder airlines are dead last in customer service surveys, probably right next to your favorite telcom providers. New technologies alone will never eliminate the need for great customer service to make your company successful.

Companies need to be reminded and recognize that their most important asset is its customers. How you treat your customers, the people who are paying for your products and services, and the lifeblood of your business, is critical to any success. If you’ve got great technology, but lousy customer service, you’ll surely struggle to succeed.

Customers want to feel like you know them, know what products and services they’ve purchased, what their service contract looks like, what upgrade possibilities are available, how to fix a problem they’re encountering, etc. They want a two-way, known relationship with their providers. But if you’re employees and customer service teams don’t have customer information from multiple channels at their fingertips, they’ll struggle to truly know and understand your customers.

By providing your employees and customer service reps – those on the front lines of customer service – with actionable insight at their fingertips, they can more easily find, understand and take action on the relevant information needed to service customers better. When you can service your customer better, and make them happy, it will directly turns into more sales. The technology takes a back seat.