Within the many debates about – “What is #PR? “What does it include?” #Media relations, public affairs, #reputation management, #public speaking and #thought leadership will usually be there along with many others.
However, rarely will #customer service standards be mentioned. I believe that in most organisations it should be.
Customer service is often the day-to-day operational element of assisting customers, and is a process that should be efficient, smooth and effective in meeting customers’ needs. That is an operational matter. But it is much more than that.
The way customers are handled, the manner and attitude, a fundamental part of #customer relations – part of public relations. And as soon as there is the slightest issue, dissatisfaction, even complaint, then the #reputation of the organisation is soon at stake. How do staff react under pressure? Defensive or sympathetic? Is the speed of response likely to satisfy the complainant? What is the tone of written replies to dissatisfied customers – antagonising formal legal jargon or pleasant?
It requires those with an eye for the reputation of the business to stand back and look at processes objectively – what will the way we handle issues like this do to the reputation of the business and are we keeping the negative impact to a minimum?
That in particular is a key issue and one that in the era of social media is now potentially far bigger than ever. In the old days, a dissatisfied customer might share their view with friends and family. Now, through social media, they can rapidly share their annoyance with thousands, even millions of people well beyond their usual #circles of influence.
This was well illustrated by this BBC story http://bbc.in/1fwd5Gj There are several important lessons for many businesses in this.
And which team will be no doubt be taking the lead in responding to the social media issues, handling this now, limiting damages and restoring the reputation? I think probably the #PR team.