Customer service and public relations always have a very close relationship. The two are heavily intertwined as the way you treat customers will reflect how the public view your company. Businesses that don’t put a lot of care into customer service will be viewed in a negative light, and everyone is cautious to approach them as they’re aware of how they treat people. The flip side of this is that an outstanding customer service tends to lead to improved public relations.
So, the focus of this blog will be to explore how you can upgrade your customer service and improve your public relations at the same time. Here are a few simple ideas that go a long way to achieving your goals:
Ensure Your Team Knows What They’re Doing & Represents Your Brand
The first step to boosting your public relations is to ensure your customer service teams know what they’re doing. Everyone should be trained in the art of customer service, meaning they understand how to interact with members of the public and represent your brand. It’s far too familiar for customer service teams to be made out of untrained individuals who don’t think about your brand. As a result, you get people who simply can’t provide high-level service to your customers. This usually leads to negative feedback, which looks bad for your brand and harms public relations.
So, all you really need to do is focus on the hiring process. If you can hire the right people, then you will have skilled individuals that know how to operate in the customer service realm. Then, you can build on this by using customer service videos to hone their skills through online training. This can teach them how to represent your brand, which ensures they convey the right image to customers. All of this leads to a far better experience for anyone interacting with your customer service team. They’ll know to put the customer’s needs first, address any problems, find quick solutions, and do all of this in a professional manner while ensuring the customer feels valued. Your business will be known for how well it deals with customer queries, which gives you a massive PR boost.
Respond As Quickly As Possible
An easy way to assess your customer service is by thinking about it from the perspective of a consumer. What do you care most about when you message a company with a question or have a problem? You want an instant response – or, you want as quick a response as possible. What you don’t want is to wait hours or days before hearing back from them. As a result, you need to guarantee that your customer service team responds as quickly as possible to any queries or issues that your customers have. The longer you keep them waiting, the more negative they’ll view your business. Therefore, your public relations suffer as your customer service gets slaughtered for being so slow.
Speeding up your response time is a case of employing more people while employing more contact points. For example, you can employ loads of staff to answer customer service phone calls, but also create new avenues for people to contact you – like email, social media, or via a live chat on your website. With more people to call upon, there should always be someone ready to respond on social media or take a call. But, with more avenues, people can try and get in touch using their favored method while still getting a quick response. The faster you are, the more positively this reflects on your business.
Respond Even When You’re Not Expected To
On the topic of responses, one customer service trick is to be very active even when you’re not directly mentioned. These days, the online world has given birth to loads of different mediums for the public to voice their opinions on businesses. Two of the most popular are social media and online review websites. Here, consumers will voice their opinion for all to see, which can make or break public relations. One way you can improve your public relations is by responding to messages on these platforms when you’re not even asked to do so. For example, if someone leaves a review on Yelp, you should respond to it. This is a great way to show that you’re actively trying to engage with consumers and respond to all feedback – negative or positive.
The public responds well to things like this as it shows them a business actually cares. It’s one thing to be nice and respond to customers when they contact you directly, but indirect contact is even better. What’s more, it’s another way to get information across to the public, which further improves your PR.
Keep Everyone Updated
Another way to improve your public relations – by offering better customer service – is to ensure everyone is always kept in the loop. Things happen around your company that can affect customers in various ways, and you must inform them when this happens – and make sure they actually get the information! The best example of this is if you have problems with couriers or delivering customer orders because of weather (or another issue). Here, you need to send out a message that explains the predicament to all your customers. To do this, you’d definitely post on social media, create a blog article as well, and send out emails/text messages to all your customers.
By doing this, you keep everyone updated about what’s going on. They will instantly feel more looked after and cared for, compared to if you said nothing. Following on from this, the way you manage any situations like this reflects well on your PR. So, if you are explaining an issue that harms customers, offer a solution right away – like a discount code for their next order!
Avoid Passing People On
As a customer, there are few things worse than contacting a customer service team and being passed on to someone else. It means you have to keep going through multiple people before you get a solution to your problem. From a customer service perspective, this is one of the worst things you can do. It doesn’t reflect well on your business, and people will be annoyed by it. Plus, you’re making it harder to convey information to your customers because you keep passing them along a chain. There could be miscommunications from the online team to the phone team, which further messes things up for the customer.
To avoid all of this, you just need to stop passing people on. If someone gives you a call and has a problem, then deal with it over the phone right there and then. If someone messages you on social media with an issue, then that shows they want to sort it on social media as well. It’s probably their preferred method as it’s easier for them. So, deal with it via social media instead of passing them on to a different branch of the team. Essentially, this shows that you respect your customers and value their time.
Set Up A FAQ Page
Frequently asked questions are probably the easiest way to answer any questions your customers – or the general public – might have. You pre-empt what people are going to say, and everything is there for them to see. The best place for these is on your website as it gives you the perfect platform to display dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of FAQs. To make things even better, you should have a search function so people can ask a question and find the relevant answers via your FAQs. This can prevent people from actually engaging with your customer service team as they find the solution to a problem via your website. It saves time for pretty much everyone involved and provides a much better service for your customers.
Setting up a FAQ page is relatively easy to do, and the best way to gain questions is by looking at the type of things people ask your customer service team all the time. Check through social media messages, emails, phone call logs, etc. You’ll soon spot a few questions that keep on coming up, which lets you form the page. From a public relations standpoint, this improves your reputation as it makes you seem a lot more authoritative and trustworthy. A business with loads of answers to FAQs is one with very little to hide. As a consequence, the public see you in a positive light.
Improving your customer service is one of the best ways to boost your public relations. As I mentioned right at the start of this post, the two are closely intertwined. If you provide an excellent service for your customers, then this results in a much more positive reputation for your company, which is reflected in the public eye. Plus, as a bonus, you also retain and gain more customers when you provide an excellent service! This has nothing to do with PR, but it’s just another incentive to improve your customer service.