Having worked in large, successful PR agencies for much of my career I’ve learned a few lessons about customer service – or client relations as it gets termed. Basically, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. Do more than is expected of you and don’t make problems for your client – you’re there to make their life easier, make them look good and help them achieve their objectives, not create a headache.
People who excel at this way of working, in my opinion, just get it. Of course, some nurture along the way from those more experienced helps to refine and polish, but these people take a pride in their work, want to succeed and value the relationships they have with their clients.
So, when I sat on the client side of the fence for a few years I really was quite amazed at how appalling some professional services providers were at this whole client relations thing. For example, if a client had to chase me for something having already briefed me and told me their deadline, I would be mortified. To some however, it would appear that having a client chase you is no cause for alarm…and seemingly even then, not an incentive to get the job done asap.
What these experiences did highlight to me however, was just how amazing some other providers were. People who knew their area of specialism inside out, who would respond to you quickly and who just took problems off your hands. I quote: “I think we might be in for some late nights to hit the deadline, but that’s our problem, not yours.” These are the people I rate. In fact, when I was working with them I used to think, this is how I hope my clients viewed me when I was in agency. They treated me, the client, the way I would expect to be treated and honestly did take problems off my hands and make my life easier.
Now, working for myself, I’ve retained working relationships with the three suppliers I rated from that role. Turns out one of them rated me too and now has me delivering PR work for them. Another carried out some work for me just last week, again to a supremely high standard. And, I’m in talks with the other about running some partnership activity – I’d be proud to work alongside them.