While I call what I do “Marketing”, it’s important to remember that it’s intimately tied to Public Relations (PR) and your Customer Service Representatives (CSRs).
Like “Marketing”, the term “Public Relations” is a broad one which encompasses a lot of different areas and activities. At it’s core, however, it is just what it says: It’s your relationship with the public. Any time you communicate with the public–be it your customers or the community–you’re engaging in PR. It is, arguably, the most important aspect of your marketing.
The “first line of defense” in this relationship is Customer Service. Whether it’s the person standing behind the counter or someone on the other end of a phone call, your CSRs are the face of your company. And they can make or break your relationship with the public.
Nobody Talks to Your Company
It’s important to remember that nobody talks to “your company”. They talk to the people who work for you. Perhaps it’s just you in a small shop, or maybe it’s a dozen staff members in a dedicated department. No matter the size of your CSR staff, it’s important that they be trained in good public relations.
Proper training in Customer Service (and how it affects your PR and Marketing) requires a lot of time, and a lot of experience. I’ll offer a few of the basics, however, to get you started.
- Know your customers. You don’t need to know each one by name (though it’s good if you can do that), but you do need to know why “type” of person they are, and what sort of interaction they expect.
- Be consistent. All of your CSRs should be saying the same things, and providing the same information (excluding the point below). They don’t need to be reading a prepared script (in fact they *shouldn’t be*), but they should be delivering a unified message.
- Know what you don’t know. In any situation where you have more than one CSR, there will be things that each person doesn’t know. Admit it. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m not able to answer that, BUT there’s someone over here that can.”
- Be a person. A good CSR is more than just a list of answers. They’re a helpful person who makes the customer feel that they’re being taken good care of.
Good Customer Service is good PR, and leads to the best marketing there is: Word of mouth recommendations.
Blaze is the founder of Redleaf Consulting. He started as a dishwasher at the age of 15, and worked his way up to Director of Marketing for a Sino-German joint venture in Jiangsu, China. He has over 25 years of experience in education, communication, and marketing.