Public relations professionals are not in the customer service field. A customer service pro’s job is to keep the customer happy and fulfilled, while a PR pro sometimes has to deliver hard truths in a hardball style. Not to mention, PR pros deal with other pros, while customer services professionals deal with a whole host of people out in the wide world. So what can PR pros learn from customer service pros? Plenty.
Here are just a few tips
1. Be a Good Listener – Customer service pros must first identify their customer’s needs before helping them. They can’t do this is they are constantly interrupting their customer or assuming they know what the problem is. As a PR pro, you are also a problem solver. So make sure you understand the problem (Low sales? Bad employee morale? Negative public perception?) before proposing a solution.
2. Identify and Anticipate Needs – The best customer service representatives, along with listening, read between the lines. For instance, if a customer has called three times about a broken toaster, they just might benefit from a warranty plan. PR pros can take a cue from that kind of thinking. Be aware of the challenges surrounding you, and anticipate ways you can head them off at the pass.
3. Phrase it Positively – As a PR pro, your job is to build relationships. But are you sabotaging yourself? When reporters on deadline call, does your voicemail message say something like “I can’t get to the phone right now, but you can try me again in office hours?” Or are your pitch meetings with the higher ups full of problems and complaints? Customer service representatives phrase their communications positively, and this reassures their customers.
4. Go the Extra Mile – Do you remember a customer service representative who cheered you up, gave you a discount, or even threw you a freebie? Chances are that you do. Why not make your colleagues’ and co-workers’ experiences with you just as memorable? Offer to email a fact sheet instead of making a reporter look it up, or heck, bring cookies into the office the day you’ll all be working late.
5. Ask for Feedback – Chances are you’ve been asked to complete plenty of “Customer Satisfaction Surveys.” These little gems help companies identify what they’re doing wrong and right. This helps them identify problem areas and emphasize their strengths. Where appropriate, ask for feedback on your own performance. Take the constructive criticism you receive and use it to improve your job performance.
Sure you’re not in customer service, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from the professional who devote their lives to making customers happy.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/bigbook.html