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Your customer service starts with the person that answers the phone

While I’m certainly not a big fan of the phone, I still use it quite often.  As you’ve probably noticed, while businesses love their fancy programs and mission statements, their front line workers define who they are.  Here’s two quick examples:

The unhelpful church

A few months back, Ali and I were giving a social media presentation to a group of local businesses.  There was a mix-up about who was bringing the projector, and it looked for a little while that it might be a big problem.  We knew there was a church right next door, and most churches have projectors around.  Being mid-day on Tuesday, it seemed likely to be available.

I know some people that attend there, but had never had any interaction with the church before.  I knew it’d be interesting to see what happened when we called.

We were hoping for the best, but felt it would be understandable if they had said “no”.  We would have been willing to put up collateral, but it’s still a tricky thing to loan out valuable equipment to a stranger.  But we didn’t get a “no” — we basically got a “we don’t care”.  The precise response was something like “no one is here to take care of that now, we can’t call them, they might show up later or they might not.   Good-bye”.  Blech.  Fortunately, we were able to get a projector in time, and I’ve since purchased my own to avoid that kind of problem in the future.

I now have one experience with that church, and it isn’t great.

The awesome dentist

A few weeks back, I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled.  My dentist doesn’t do that kind of work, so he gave me four local oral surgeons to call.  I called them all.

The winner, quiet easily, was East Cobb Oral Surgery.  The other three places sounded very annoyed that I called.  Not downright rude, but you could tell they didn’t want to be on the phone.

When I called ECOS, the woman was very friendly, very polite and very patient.  The call only lasted about 45 seconds, but she was MINE for those 45 seconds.  It made all the difference in the world.  One receptionist spent 45 seconds being helpful, and the company earned $1300.  Not a bad return on the time she invested with me.


People often want to know the ROI of being on Twitter or Facebook, and it’s quite difficult to measure.  It’s similar to the ROI of answering the phone, since it’s all about connecting with people.  That receptionist earned ECOS $1300 in 45 seconds, which is on pace for nearly $100,000/hour.  Is that her value?  Obviously not.

For another example, I mentioned a few years ago how a single tweet earned an HVAC company $700.  Is their Twitter account worth $700/tweet? Not so much.

When it comes to social media, don’t worry too much about trying to calculate ROI.  Build relationships and the return will come.


One weird thing, though.  After the surgery, which went very well, I emailed my primary dentist and ECOS to express my thanks for their quality work.  Neither ever replied.  Not a big deal, but kinda weak.

Have you ever had a similar experience, where a single interaction (phone, Twitter, etc) created/lost a lot of income for a business?

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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