Mark Ellis column: Great service is something that can be controlled

7:47 PM, Feb. 1, 2013  |  Comments
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Simple quiz for business owners: What is the one thing you can control in your business?

A) World peace

B) Gas at under 50 cents a gallon

C) Great customer service

I'm not going to help you out here because if it's not obvious to you, then nothing can help your business.

As I and others have written about several times in the past, great customer service is the one thing that you can actually control in your business, yet many businesses still bank on slick advertising, social media and need as their key drivers to increase business. Advertising, social media and need are key drivers to bring customers to you, however, it's the great customer service, or lack of, that will determine your long term success.

My wife and I hosted friends over the holidays and they have shared negative customer service experiences. One from a health care provider, one from a big-box store and one from a popular restaurant that I thought I would share with you.

An 88-year-old friend of ours was at her doctor's office for a checkup and was informed just before leaving the office that her insurance (a benefit from late husband's job) was terminated two weeks earlier.

She was truly shaken by this news since she was not notified by her health care provider that her policy was terminated. So friends helped her by calling the "user-friendly 800 number" (making a sarcastic remark here) to call for help. After two separate days of over an hour each day on the phone and prompted to call other "800 numbers," this poor lady still can't get anyone to call her back.

Another friend went into a "big-box" store to purchase insulation for her light switches. First she went to the lighting department, where two employees talking with each other had to be interrupted to take her question of where to buy the insulation. Finally one employee said words like "don't know if we have it. You may want to try window department."

Great, she thought to herself, and then asked where the department is located. An employee, without turning a head, just pointed and said, "Down there a few aisles." My friend sure was "wowed" with that experience. More sarcasm here.

Lastly, another couple shared that on more than just a few occasions when dining at restaurants they have a good experience with their hostess/waitstaff, but if during dining they need something, like a refill of water, or silverware, that even though waitstaff are walking right past them and they ask for something, the staff keeps walking as if they are invisible. Our group at our home that night all shared that we too have had that same experience.

I share these negative stories with you because people do share the good and bad experiences with family and friends, and if the experience is bad, the negative words really spread quickly and all the advertising, social media and need will not bring new customers to your business with friends sharing the negative stories.

- Mark Ellis owns Ellis Marketing and may be reached at pcbusiness@

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