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Client service: 10 ways five-star brands and companies excel

This article has been written by Ken Jacobs, Principal at Jacobs Communications Consulting, LLC and posted on the blog of our PRGN Partner, Landis Communication.

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I gave a presentation at the recent PRGN international meeting in Los Angeles called “How To Create A Five-Star Client Service Organization.” In it, I examined companies known to provide superior customer service. It’s my belief that agencies should study these companies and mimic their success for better client service.

Here are 10 things agencies should be doing now:

1. Make it personal: Agencies must understand not just how to service accounts, but also individual clients. Find out their personal drives, needs and motivations. When you understand what motivates individuals, you’ll do a better job of deepening relationships.

2. Observe, ask, listen, think and remember: We book conference calls, client meetings and team get-togethers. We should also put time in our calendars to think about what makes our clients tick.

3. Always go beyond: To surpass expectations, deliver the unexpected and take the extra step. “Wow” your clients. If you want to know how it’s done, study Zappos.

4. Always know how you’re delivering vs. client expectations: You can’t meet, let alone beat, expectations if you don’t know your client’s perception of your performance.

5. Fix problems without fuss…even if it’s the client’s fault: Fight the urge to remind the client that the problem could have been avoided if they had only followed your agency’s recommendation!

6. Surprise and delight: Little things mean a lot!A bottle of the client’s favorite wine, an invitation to see their favorite team, or a hand-written note thanking them for their role in a recent success can pay enormous dividends.

7. Show clients you care:The adage “clients don’t care what you know until they know you care” is true ! For example, you should know that the client’s alma mater made it to the Final Four. You do know your client’s alma mater, don’t you?

8. Show and tell clients that you value their business: Create your version of the flight attendant speech that begins, “When it comes to airline travel we know you have a choice…” and say it to your clients by phone, with written notes and in person. By the way, Southwest Airlines does a fabulous job of customer service.

9. Don’t be satisfied with (merely) satisfied clients: Some 75 percent of PR clients who parted with their firm in the last year report they were “satisfied” with their agency’s work. Maintaining “merely” satisfied clients won’t sustain or grow your business.

10. Be passionate: I’m amazed when I see articles about the skills necessary in PR that fail to mention client service. Today’s communicators must be superb service providers. If a team member lacks passion for client service, consider whether that person should be part of your organization’s future.

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