While we emphasize the importance of communication in the business, it’s important that we strive to develop specific communication for each and every stakeholder that one business entity deals with. Why am I raising this concern? While PR has been celebrated world over for its role in brand building a big percentage of business leaders are quickly letting loose other facets of business communication expecting PR to cushion the business.
Despite the similar roles in the organization, Public relations (PR) and customer service should be considered two separate areas of responsibility in the business, simply because while PR is the company’s face that’s presented to the public and to gatekeepers, such as media and other organizations, customer service is the company’s face that’s presented to its customers.
One of the biggest threats to PR practitioners in Kenya are the consumer watch columns that media houses have provided for customers to rant about service delivery by their day to day interface with brands. Columns like the Cutting Edge in Daily Nation and Point Blank in the Standard are what communication managers’ dread every week they are published.
But why do customer complaints hit the newspaper pages? Any sane customer will never run to the media to get his issues sorted out, they only do it when they have exhausted all the possible avenues of getting an amicable solution to the problem. The main reason why brands land into these columns is poor service delivery which leads to complaints that are met with a pathetic customer service desk.
Once, the customer compliant has been published in the media, the PR team is called upon to perform magic and get rid of the ‘bad story’. While, the opposite rarely, happens, in this new media era, happy customers become your best public evangelists. A simple tweet or Facebook update about your excellent services will go a long way in your brand building exercise.
All in all, PR and Customer Service Departments should be actively involved with each other simply because the customer care desk is the first line of PR in any organization; they need to understand the values of PR before they engage the customers. As a PR practitioner, one should proactively look at the customer service scripts and see where he or she can plug in the overall company messaging. Encouraging your good customers to share their feedback via social media will also go a long way in building a loyal online army for the brand.
Lastly, it’s important for the whole company to know that they form the key components of the PR machinery for the organization.