After reading Steve Cody’s entertaining and thoughtful RepMan blog the other morning, it just confirmed my feeling that helping clients develop outstanding customer service programs could be a big new revenue generator for public relations firms. It’s wonderful to improve one’s own client relationships – but why stop there.
Great agencies are always looking for new ways to become more valuable to their clients – and increase budgets at the same time. Harold Burson has said that the chief internal public relations officer must be the conscience of the company. Well, how about the public relations firm becoming the conscience of their client’s customer relations function?
It’s possible. Agencies need strong client relationships at senior levels to sell-in their value and expertise to the right decision-maker; true expertise (e.g. someone who’s been there/done that for a corporation) to give it credibility and knowledge of best practices; and the creativity to develop programs that improve what has to be one of the weakest areas of company/brand/user communication.
Here are just a few possibilities for agency customer service programs for their clients:
• A Customer Service Assessment Program to develop new policies and procedures based on an in-depth audit of the customer relations function (agencies help clients develop social media policies, why not customer relations policies).
• Customer relations training (agencies “train” clients for a variety of needs already. This becomes one more training tool in your toolbox).
• Role playing workshops and involvement programs with a client’s CR managers/staff
• Strategic integration of social media tools (e.g. twitter) with the customer relations function.
• Strategic counseling in the agency’s role as “customer relations conscience.”
• “Mystery” customer programs to assess and measure impact.
These are but a few. And they may not be the right ones. There are a number of great corporations who put a premium on excellent customer relations. Study them and adapt their techniques to your clients.
Be one of the first to carve out a niche specialty in customer relations communication.