14 Feb 2014

The Power of Customer Service in PR

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Living in a digital age means a great deal of a PR professional’s work is done from behind a desk. When you’re unable to actually get out there and connect with people, it’s so important to be able to create a personality for yourself and your clients with the written word because every interaction is an opportunity for customer service. Whenever you engage with people, whether they are consumers, members of the media, or even clients, you’re setting a tone that they will ultimately associate with your brand. To ensure that tone remains positive, keep in mind these four powerful communication tools.

Timeliness: People want to feel valued, and responding quickly makes them feel that their questions, comments, and concerns are important to you. It also gives people peace-of-mind knowing that you are available and they don’t need to jump through hoops to reach you. Plus, the sooner you respond, the less chance there is that you will forget to do so and damage a relationship. Each interaction is significant, so keep an eye on your inboxes and respond in as timely a fashion as possible.

Humor: Sometimes, you just need to lighten the mood. Don’t be afraid to show people that you are human. I recently worked on a blogger campaign where every single thing that could go wrong, went wrong. Our sign up forms crashed, our promotional items arrived late, with the wrong graphics, and completely broken (and so did their replacements), and we received not only the wrong product, but not enough product! By the end, we just had to laugh. Rather than trying to cover up what was going on, or worse, ignoring the 1,000 upset consumer emails altogether, we explained the situation by showcasing the humor in our dilemma. Most of our bloggers were moms, so they understood what it’s like to have a “terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.” They appreciated our quick responses, humanity, and fun, and we were able to maintain a wonderful relationship with all of our bloggers. Because of this, the campaign ended up being a huge success. Respect your consumers’ problems and respond accordingly, but keep in mind that you don’t always have to take yourself too seriously.

Patience: It’s no secret to any PR professional that things don’t always go as planned. Maybe that media representative forgot to write the review they promised you and they ask for another batch of samples. Or maybe you’re running a promotion and your participants didn’t read the directions and are now filling your inbox with questions. Yes, your time is precious, but so is everyone else’s.  When you respond with patience and kindness, they will remember that you were a pleasure to work with and they will be keen to do so again in the future.

Appreciation: Imagine that you are on Twitter, you @mention your favorite brand about how much you love them, and they respond by sending you free samples just for being a fan. How cool, right?! Your target audiences feel the same way. Let your supporters know you care about them. Never miss an opportunity to say thank you, and really mean it. Without clients to provide us with work, without consumers to purchase our promoted products, and without media reps to publish our press releases, we wouldn’t have jobs. So, remember to always be grateful and let others know you appreciate them.