“The media has it in for us.”
“The public just doesn’t understand what we do.”
“We can’t get support for XYZ cause.”
These are just a few of the statements I have heard from businesses and organizations who’ve hired me to improve their public image. Nine times out of ten, I discovered that the problems started from within with three simple words: poor customer service.
Anyone who knows me well knows that bad customer service is one of my ultimate pet peeves. Just like Chef Robert Irvine on Restaurant Impossible, I get fired up when I see paying customers being treated like an inconvenience or bother. These days a bad customer service experience can turn into a company’s worst nightmare in 140 characters or less. Social media is like a giant megaphone, projecting one person’s negative opinion into a tidal wave of cyber bandwagoning. Luckily, it works the other way around, too. Above-par customer service is such a rare find that it can drive your customers to tout your praises!
Here are a few suggestions for ensuring every employee is in the public relations business:
– Make sure they know the expectation that every employee should deliver excellent customer service. It’s time to get back to the basics: the customer IS always right.
– Keep all employees in the loop on company news. Nothing makes an employee disgruntled faster than not being in the know. When you don’t know, you make it up, and then you start talking. Squash the negative rumors with facts.
– Focus less on numbers and more on people. Take a hard look at your goals. Are they customer-centric? Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. Do you allow your employees the freedom and flexibility to go above and beyond?
Investing in great customer service is much less expensive than rebuilding your organization’s damaged reputation and having to regain lost customers. Exceeding customer expectations should be the cornerstone of your public relations strategy.