Don’t make PR/Comms the scapegoat for a lack of real customer engagement in business

By Lara Magnus

A standard request from clients or brands is to ‘differentiate’ them in the market – make them stand out. Not at all unjust. Surely this is why you have marketing, PR and digital specialists – to ensure your brand stands out?

However, a word of caution, very few brands can stand out with merely a PR and communications campaign, they must be backed by SOMETHING. And this is where the brand’s responsibility comes in. That ‘something’ should be customer service, or real tangible benefits to the market or even the way they proactively engage with their audience – as this is what makes a brand really stand out.

By customer engagement/service I don’t mean your digital strategy where you respond to Twitter or Facebook queries with the standard “thank you for getting in touch, pls DM your contact details”, but I mean: Do you make it easy for people to do business with you?

  • Can customer engage with your business directly?
  • Can customers return faulty or default products or items with ease – or is this a tedious process for them?
  • Do you listen to their complaints or criticism and understand what could be different or changed (in an ideal world)?
  • Do you know where the pitfalls are likely to be in the customer journey as they engage with your company and your products throughout the lifecycle of their relationship with you?

We live in a world with options, and today customers have more choice than ever before, so service can no longer be an afterthought – or the so called ‘white elephant’ that merely becomes part of the communications campaign, without translating into the various business units. The same should be said for your after-sales service – because if you don’t make it easy for people to do business with you – no amount of campaigns can fix the impact on the business and it will be a business killer.

From a PR perspective, without the commitment of the company to make improvements in customer service – no matter how small – all the talk around content, multi-channels etc. will not make a difference to your actual business. Again, no matter what the marketing campaign, start with the business basics – get this right – and then your communications specialists can really make an impact and truly be held accountable for the work they implement.

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