Yet the expression is not a substitute for thoughtful action. There are instances when the expression is used automatically and possibly to give yourself permission not to follow through with your customer's inquiry.
Why would anyone behave that way? Most importantly, why would a company behave that way when we're more anxious than ever about losing touch with our customers? [For an interesting set of stats see Logic+Emotion, where David Armano reports on a Bain & Company survey results.]
The best place to keep a customer is usually when they need you. And the best way for customers to need you is to make yourself indispensable or irreplaceable. There are many ways to do that, from adding value to providing a product that nobody else has. The most obvious and seemingly difficult area to conquer is on the customer service side.
As I said in my comment to David's post: CRM and all the other acronyms are tools. What matters is who is using them. We should learn to ask the right questions. If I do sound passionate about the human side of work, it's because I am. So many times I have met exceptional individuals -- gifted and amazing on a personal level -- who get left behind.
There are many ways to be discouraged from doing what's best in an organization. A customer service manager who gets it and behaves accordingly with customers is only one person. She can honestly say "we're in this together" and let your customers guide her, yet your company may still not come through.
In my weekly post at FC Expert blogs I ask a simple question: can you teach service? What do you think -- can you?