The most successful brands spend a lot of time and money defining their personas, communicating values and key messaging, acquiring customers and keeping these customers satisfied. Customer service is an essential department for every organisation, as it helps companies uphold their carefully constructed reputations.
Customer service is thus very closely tied to public relations. Preventing and resolving issues before they become crises enables organisations to focus on proactive public relations that further build the brand. Read on to learn more about the latest challenges facing customer service departments and tips for managing customer concerns and complaints.
Poor customer service can be a brand’s downfall, especially if it’s consistently lax or one person’s issue gains widespread attention. One of the challenges of modern times is that brands need to offer customer service via an increasing number of channels. Gone are the days where customers can only send an email or pick up the phone to speak with a representative. Now, customers want quick and easy access to chat features on brand websites so they can resolve an issue without the hassle of waiting on hold.
Many people also take to social media to air their grievances. Sometimes this occurs privately via direct message, but most of the time, customers publicly comment on Instagram posts or send a Tweet that tags the organisation in question. This brings the issue to the forefront, allowing many other people to see behind the carefully constructed curtain. In some ways, a public complaint can be like a five-car pile up because it invites other people to share their poor experiences and agreement with the original poster.
Brands that expertly manage customer service can often avoid public relations disasters that can quickly spiral out of control. Consider the following recommendations for managing your brand’s online presence:
A 2020 survey found that one-third of customers use social media to communicate their complaints to a brand. Thus, companies need to regularly monitor their social media posts and message inboxes to ensure questions or complaints don’t slip through the cracks. Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report 2020 found most customers on social media expect a business to respond to their inquiry in less than an hour.
It’s also necessary to be aware of what’s going on beyond your own profiles. Consider using a monitoring service to track online conversations that include mentions of your brand, as well as any common misspellings or abbreviations of your company name. This will enable your customer service team to catch any issues before they balloon in size.
There are many different reasons why people call out brands publicly. Whether someone is experiencing a problem with your product, is disappointed in news you’ve released or is questioning your corporate values, you have to be prepared for everything. In the case of trolls, it’s often possible to simply ignore their comments or even to delete them if they are clearly spam.
However, for valid concerns and common questions, it’s important for customer service teams to carefully craft responses. Looping in your communications team can help you ensure that the copy aligns with your brand’s voice and values. Additionally, being sensitive to each customer’s unique issue and differentiating these answers is key. This ensures the interactions feel genuine and that customers don’t receive a canned response.
If a problem has gone viral or if you’re facing a mob of dissatisfied customers, it may require counsel from your PR team. It’s important to remember that an issue doesn’t just impact the customers who are unhappy with the product or service they received. All eyes are on your brand and these challenges can make potential customers question your brand’s commitment to quality and doing what is right.
Carefully crafting a statement that acknowledges everyone’s concerns, recognises them as valid and includes steps for a resolution can help you weather the storm. It can also help you avoid having to respond to an overwhelming number of comments or questions by providing one or several status updates. You can share statements via social media, your website or even conduct reactive media relations to secure interviews that address your situation.
Great customer service offers many advantages. It helps improve customer loyalty and satisfaction, can lead to positive word-of-mouth that boosts brand reputation and drives profits. The most exceptional customer service can also enable organisations to avoid public relations nightmares that an have a long-term negative impact on their image and bottom line. When customer service teams have support from public relations teams, it sets them up for greater success. And by following the best practices above, both B2C and B2B companies can improve their approach to customer service in an increasingly competitive market.
Is your organisation looking for ways to uphold brand reputation? Public relations is an essential tool for building and maintaining your brand identity. Contact Mulberry to learn more about the B2B communications campaigns we support.
Jess Messenger is an Account Director at Mulberry Marketing Communications, an award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Australia. She enjoys developing PR campaign strategies and writing for B2B audiences across numerous verticals such as retail, foodservice and healthcare.