5 Ways Customer Service Impacts Your PR Strategy

Blog_CustomerService.jpg

My first real job was working behind the counter at Dairy Queen. For any of you who also have worked in the food service industry, you know the basic concept of customer service is simple: Provide great service and you’ll secure return customers. The same can be said for all businesses, whether they are large corporations, mom and pop shops, or run by solopreneurs. Customer service is the culture that should be woven into everything that makes said brand or business strong.

While we could speak at length about examples of bad customer service (have you ever tried to sell your home or change your flight?), it is those that go above and beyond that prove great customer service is not a dying breed.

What does this have to do with PR? Everything, because the best PR any business can ever gain is executing stellar customer service.

People do not have short memories when it comes to their emotions and personal values. They always have a lot to say, especially with the dawn of social media. And no other method of communication so easily allows for a call in the shift of power.

This is great news for consumers, not so stellar for brands. Thanks to social media, businesses can no longer afford to ignore the voice of the customer and try to manipulate word of mouth negativity by generating good PR to stifle said comments.

Creating exceptional customer service experiences is crucial to developing long-lasting customer relationships. Every action, word, and behavior undertaken by a brand or business has an impact on the customer experience—both positive and negative.

Dealing with the public is what PR is all about, and sometimes that’s putting out a fire or patting someone on the back.

Here are some useful insights into how customer service impacts your PR strategy.

Get personal

The customer experience is all about connecting empathetically with your customers. Make sure you follow up frequently, not just on special occasions, to let customers know that you care.

Even in the midst of the busiest schedule, it isn’t difficult to send personalized, handwritten thank you cards or every day notes. Imagine the pleasant surprise your customer will feel after receiving a message saying they are remembered, valued, and important to you.

Collaborate

At the end of the day, the consumer controls your fate regardless of how cool, innovative, or magical your brand.

Take advantage of what savvy brand stewards already know and provide opportunities for your brand fans to offer their ideas on how to make the product or service you provide better serve their needs.

Walk a mile

Okay, maybe not the full mile. However, in order to understand the overall customer experience, you’re going to need to think and act like a true customer. From the perspective of the customer.

To see how your brand’s or business’ customer service experiencing feels, try:

  • Experiencing your product in its retail environment.
  • Invite, then watch, someone with no understanding of your brand to peruse your website. See how easily it is for them to locate critical information or make a purchase.
  • Test your customer service department by calling to ask a question or emailing for additional information.
  • Reach out to your business through social media and see how long you wait for a response.

Spot the hero

The true hero of any brand’s story is the customer. It is not what the brand can do for the customer. Which is why a great customer experience requires a thorough understanding of your customer.

Take the time to research who your customer is, what makes them tick, and how you can best help. Once you have this information, inquire about how they are successfully using your product or service in their lives.

You’re guaranteed to find a plethora of PR-worthy stories you can then pitch to the media to promote to showcase the value of your brand.

Make new friends, keep the old

There is a misconception in business that to grow your brand or bottom line, you need to focus solely on acquiring new customers.

I, for one, believe Pareto’s law still holds true that 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of customers. Keep developing your relationships with these current customers.

Focus on these loyaltists and keep them in the know of what’s going on with your brand and business at all times. Communicating with your customers how the brand is investing in them will pay dividends.

Still not convinced customer service should be a part of your PR strategy? If you question the value of this, consider how bad off your business or brand would be without it.

Remember, good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster. Thus, genuine engagement with your customers is key to your brand and business achieving positive publicity.

Does customer service come first in your PR strategy?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, get on the wait list for Hearsay’s PR mastermind group (launching soon), or email me directly to schedule a Mini PR or Mini PR Plus session today!