Before you invest in new technology to improve your customer service, consult your peers: 272 small to midsize companies that recently rated the effectiveness of various technologies designed to expedite orders, track sales, and log customer comments. They ranked each gadget "not effective at all," "so-so," or "highly effective." Many had mixed feelings. We compiled a scorecard, based upon their satisfaction and usage levels.

Tech Scorecard
% of users who gave it a top rating

Good Bets

Fax/modem for order taking 87%

Cellular phones for salespeople 71%

Pagers for salespeople 67%

Could Be Better

Customer-contact software 56%

Automated phone system for handling customer calls 53%

Database to log client complaints 49%

Worth Checking Out*

Bar coding to track orders/deliveries 80%

On-line computer system for order taking 72%

Buyer Beware

Interactive video disks for customers 13%

*Low usage levels.

Source: The Executive Committee/Inc. survey of 272 companies, 66% with sales of $25 million or less, December 1993.

* * *