When you have a working relationship with a PR, advertising or marketing firm, the expectation is that their work will result in more people becoming aware of your organization and possibly becoming actual clients. What we stress to potential and current clients is that our efforts could send a million prospects your way, but if those prospects have a negative experience when contacting you or visiting your location, you’ve lost them. We happily uphold our end of the bargain when our work informs or educates people about you; what happens after that is all on your end. (But we can help! More about that later.)
One key thing to remember, repeat and live by: Customer service is in EVERYONE’S job description. Of course, a salesperson or clerk knows their job is to help customers, but it’s important for everyone from shelf-stockers and back-end operations staff all the way up to the president to understand that, yes, customer service is their job. Every person who a customer considers part of your organization is an ambassador, whether they realize it or not.
Not every member of your organization is going to be conducting interviews with reporters, but every member of your organization, top to bottom, should be able to speak intelligently about what you do. A good rule of thumb is to never say anything to the general public that you wouldn’t want on the news. I have known reporters and other members of the media to call an organization and not identify themselves as news media. Does the thought send a shiver down your spine? Then read on, my friend.
At Obsidian, we work hard to help clients craft the messaging that we will use in our various tactics to elevate your company’s profile, from media coverage and media interview preparation to collateral materials and social media. It’s so important that your company demonstrates message alignment across all those channels. What I mean is if an ad or brochure says your restaurant can cater to vegans, but your servers have no idea what guests are talking about when they inquire, your messaging is not aligned. If you give an interview and say you deliver a seamless customer experience but then someone visits your location and is dismissed, ignored or not guided step-by-step through the purchase process, your messaging is not aligned.
So how do you make sure your company is communicating a consistent message?
- Communicate with your staff and be transparent. Make sure staff is aware of and trained to answer questions about anything a member of the public could see in a story about you, on your website, on Facebook, etc. For example, if you are offering a Groupon deal, make sure your sales clerk knows about it and knows how to ring it up. Share successes with staff. If someone sees in a news story that last year you had a banner year and mentions that in conversation with your employee, that employee shouldn’t be hearing about it first from a customer.
- Make 100 percent certain every employee understands that HE or SHE personally is the face of your company. If your accountant happens to answer a customer call, he should hold that customer’s hand all the way to the person she needs to speak with. If your executive director is walking through your office and is stopped by a member of the public, she should stop what she is doing if at all possible and help that person find who she needs to speak with. No, maybe your accountant can’t take a customer order, and maybe your executive director doesn’t have the time to give a tour to every person who comes into your organization, but it is their job to make their brief entry into that prospect’s experience a pleasant and professional one.
- Consider hosting an ambassador training. Obsidian leads these sessions for many clients, where we educate the front-line staff of an organization on the various channels of communication, the importance of the first impression and how to make a positive one, how to choose what types of words to use when speaking with customers, etc.
The bottom line is this: A customer doesn’t know and doesn’t care what is in whose job description. Customer service and ambassadorship must be everyone’s responsibility.