Whether you’re a company looking to improve your customer service, or you’re trying to run a PR campaign on a budget, there are many ways that the wellbeing of your customers can also achieve great results for your company’s reputation. It’s common in the business world to think of PR and customer service as two separate departments, but by having them work together you can achieve some amazing results.
1. Training customer service reps
Frequently, Customer Service representatives within a client-facing business will be given scripts for dealing with difficult customer situations. But sometimes these scripted responses can come off as robotic and unfeeling, particularly when customers are already upset. Even if their problem has been adequately handled, a bad customer service interaction could result in a bad review and loss of business.
If you have a PR team in place already, have them come up with some guidelines for handling these tough situations in a more personal and satisfactory way. They’ll be able to find new strategies for de-escalating a hostile conversation, better methods for self customer service, and other resources for customers who need further assistance. A collaborative approach to customer service is going to result in more successful interactions and overall better PR. This training strategy requires an investment of time and resources, and might be a hard sell at first, but will result in impressive improvements in customer service.
2. Aligning goals
Another great result of having your PR team and customer service collaborate is an integration of their basic goals. Customer service reps are usually incentivized by numbers—handling a higher volume of calls, messages, or emails is their way of measuring success, whereas PR is frequently geared towards positive media coverage.
Finding a middle ground for everyone to aim towards will create a more accurate sense of actual customer satisfaction, by doing things like having customers rate interactions with customer service, or gathering data on how many issues are actually resolved during these interactions. Your customer service reps may not be as “efficient” as they were, but they’ll be working harder for positive outcomes, which will make a massive difference in PR in the long run.
3. Using good news
Another way in which customer service and PR can intersect is in their need for good “ammo” to use during the course of their customer interactions. News regarding new products or significant reviews can be used by customer service for answering inquiries about products. Having talking points to bolster the usual customer service conversations is also a great way to make the experience more personal for the customer. They’ll feel like the rep has intimate knowledge of the company they work for and its products and services, which creates an atmosphere of trust.
4. Building relationships
When customer service reps are untrained to handle PR-relevant situations, it can lead to a loss of opportunities to build relationships. For instance, if a customer is threatening to leave the business due to negative publicity, it would be better for the rep to understand the situation fully and be able to offer an apology or explanation of some kind.
You’ll have a much better chance of winning back someone’s business, as well as stopping the spread of bad PR, if customer service understands how to speak about sensitive situations. Leaving your customer service reps without PR training would be removing their ability to do their job successfully, and could create even more frustration for the customer. Building relationships should be the first priority of customer service, and reps should do their best to avoid giving up on a customer at all costs.
Hopefully you’re able to see how cross training your customer service and PR teams will benefit your business in the long run. Equipping your customer service representatives with PR skills will make them not only better at their jobs, but more likely to succeed overall as employees.