There’s an art and a science to delivering outstanding client service. Reflecting on 15 years in the business, and simplifying things a whole lot to keep this blog post bite-sized, I’d suggest that successful client leadership can be boiled down to three C’s: Curiosity, Continuity and Care.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but a healthy dose of inquisitiveness can give a PR practitioner nine lives when it comes to client service. It’s easy to be curious when a new piece of business is on the table, but what about one, two, or three years into your working relationship? Curiosity about client business can lead to great things—a genuine interest in your client’s objectives and opportunities; a hunger to create programming that can capture hearts and minds; a commitment to considering how results can be strengthened year-over-year. Try to place yourself in the shoes of your client, and of their target audiences, to consider how best to serve them. Look for new perspectives internally to contribute innovative ideas that can keep things interesting. Ask your client how your team is doing, how you can improve, and then act based on what you’ve learned.
Continuity helps breed trust, plain and simple. The holy grail of client service is to be considered a genuine extension of a client’s team, but you can’t get there unless you’ve proven your worth. Aside from crafting teams who will mesh well with client contacts and are enthusiastic about their business, continuity requires a daily commitment to quick response, thoughtful counsel, and solutions that matter. The long game of client service requires this daily commitment to be repeated over time, to demonstrate continuous focus, effort, and enthusiasm. The bottom line? Do what you say you’re going to do, and then keep on doing it.
Care is where the magic happens. If you don’t care, you can ask questions but never be truly curious. You can put in the time, but never truly be consistent. You can’t fake care, you can only encourage it and nurture it. I promise you, your clients can tell the difference. So, how can you foster a caring approach to client service? Listen, don’t just hear. Learn your client’s language—every company has different values, expectations, and vernacular. Pay attention and incorporate these nuances into your approaches to demonstrate you’re on the same page. Be thoughtful in your counsel. And, above all, consider their success to be your success.
No two clients are alike, but with curiosity, continuity and care you can begin to build and grow relationships that count.
Are there any other C’s that you consider critical to client service? Do tell!