The new face of public relations

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It’s easy to get carried away with the latest digital channels and viral messaging; to become focused on social media, search engine optimization and website usability. We know—trust us!But, these channels and hot trends don’t mean much if the basic principles of great customer service and brand management aren’t in place. In fact, they may be eroding even faster due to the multitude of marketing channels that now exist, making it even more critical to get back to the basics.

If you haven’t taken a walk down memory lane recently and revisited your customer service and brand, now may be the time. We’ve got some thoughts on how to do just that:

Walk in their shoes

It’s time to play secret shopper and walk the path of your customers to receive a clear understanding of their experiences from start to finish. Complete this exercise from every angle and every customer touch point, noting the processes and experiences along the way. It is critical that you view these experiences through customer-centric eyes, and not company-centric processes.

Ask the question “Why?”
Our businesses and processes become myopic. We “do things” because we have always done them that way or because no one has thought seriously about how to conduct that process better. Now is the time to ask, “Why do we do it that way?” Don’t accept answers that aren’t customer-centric.

Collaborate on new answers

For processes and experiences that proved to not be customer-centric, communicate and collaborate with your team on their improvement. Buy-in early on will ensure a faster and easier behaviour shift from your team. They will likely be feeling defensive as you will be suggesting change, so get them excited about this collaboration with logo’d ear buds and the message “We’re listening to our customers.”

Seek your team’s input on how best to alter customers’ experiences with your company. If need be, have them participate in the same secret shopping exercises you or your evaluations team conducted to experience it themselves. Provide them with binders or notebooks to capture their thoughts and observations.

Infuse the brand

While we believe, or hope, our brand is infused throughout every customer touch point, the reality is… it isn’t. So, what better time to incorporate the brand more comprehensively than when reevaluating processes? Through this evaluative time, be purposeful in designing new processes that support the brand and align with the mission, vision and values of the organization.

Implement and test

Even when these methodical and analytical steps have been taken, customers’ experiences still may not be the best they could be. Invite customer feedback using incentives such as coolers for focus groups or travel mugs for survey responses. Make alterations based on that feedback and continue to solicit input as part of your processes going forward.

At the root of success is great customer service that’s infused with your brand. Get back to basics by reevaluating these foundational elements of your business for 2012, and see your profits soar as customers increase their engagement with you.


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