Posts Tagged ‘client’


Business IS Personal – Five Tips for Effective Client Relations

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Kelly Mulholland*

In business you commonly hear the phrase, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” While this saying may signify that there is nothing wrong with playing competitive games professionally, it’s impossible to argue that business isn’t personal. Businesses have always had to be personal with their clients – though the tactics by which they reach their audiences and the modes by which they build and maintain relationships have certainly changed over the years.

@emorgenstern: It's all about the people. Always.

Even so, fundamental techniques still need to be put in place to ensure high levels of client satisfaction. Here are the 5 most useful ways I have found that help to build client rapport overtime:

1. Use the client’s name when speaking to them: It not only ensures the client feels that you are listening but it also helps you remember with whom you are speaking.

2. Don’t delay communication: Haste doesn’t always make waste. Bad news never has good timing, but it definitely doesn’t get better with time. If you see issues, contact the client immediately acknowledging you are working with your team to resolve the issue. You want to keep your client informed regularly, so that all parties involved know when the job is complete.

3. Educate your client while educating yourself: A client may not know when to ask for help. Taking the time to coordinate your schedule for training sessions can help provide them with the information they need to do their job more effectively and keep you and your organization informed of service features and product improvements that your clients want to see based on their feedback.

4. Don’t rely on just email to communicate: In AdAge’s “How In-person Meetings and Phone Conversations Will Save Your Client-Agency Relationship,” Judy Neer discusses how we shouldn’t rely on one form of communication with clients. While email has many benefits, such as sending documents, a lot can get lost in translation. Make a habit of picking up the phone if you are playing email tag with the client. Take your client to lunch, coffee or even write a handwritten letter. (You can also see my colleague Denise Giacin’s blog post for further details on email etiquette.)

5. Over-deliver, under-promise: Never promise a client something you have hesitations about delivering, otherwise you risk ruining your credibility and trust. In other words, manage the client’s expectations.

What customer relationship management tools do you find most useful? How are you putting the personal back in your client relationships? Please share your tips here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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Bio: Before joining the BurrellesLuce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

Marketing through the Web: How Information is Power

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Kelly Mulholland*

Flickr Image: Jeffrey Beall

Flickr Image: Jeffrey Beall

There are three ways consumers use the web: they search, browse and buy. Most organizations increase their site’s traffic by adding searching tools and enhancing SEO. While this helps people answer their initial question of “what,” it doesn’t necessarily go the extra step and encourage them to browse or buy.

However, if positioned correctly, encouragement to go beyond just the initial search can be helpful to the consumer… at least when it comes to expanding their knowledge and possibly influencing their buying decisions. Today’s consumers, want a site to tell them something they didn’t think to search for or think they might want/need. In the process, they may be persuaded to take some action and possibly lead to a conversion or sale based on the resources you provide beyond the original search.   

Search Mode- Provide the consumer with what they know they want
When a prospective customer is searching a site they almost always have an overall notion of what they want, but perhaps not all the details or at least a vague idea of the need they want to fulfill. This is where websites that utilize the search toolbox plug-in (usually located at the top of a webpage) come into action. The client wants to be able to search their product and be given substantial results.

For instance, when I simply type in the search box “scarves” at ShopBop—a luxury clothing retail website and BurrellesLuce client—I get an overwhelming list of over 200 results. The search function on the site even makes my quest easier by providing suggestions of related searches much the way Google or Bing might.

Browse Mode- Provide detailed information
With a list generated, a prospective buyer shifts into browse mode. What’s important here is how much information is provided—the customer wants to know more about their prospective purchase in the most organized fashion possible, no pun intended. Generated reviews from other customers should be at complete view coupled with suggestions. This will help the consumer differentiate one product’s value from another. It is also most helpful to provide organizational tools for the client to be able to sift through all the search results.

Shopbop does a great job at this. First, I can see “More from Scarves /Wraps” and also descriptions about the designer and the item itself. I have the capability to see how other customers rated each scarf. I also have the option of organizing my products in “Wish Lists” and “My Likes/Hearts” giving me time to consider my purchases without fully committing myself to placing the product in “My Cart.” I can sort the scarves with drop-down options by designer, size, color, and price. These categorizations are an aid to a consumer who might be inundated with an overwhelming amount of data.

Buyer Mode- Be your customer’s personal researcher
Now that the customer has browsed all the data, they have finally chosen the best product for them. While they may be done researching, that doesn’t mean the work of the service provider should end there. In fact, it is now your job to take on a new role: personal researcher. As Tara Gessinger, states in this Online PR Media blog post on Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships with Customers in the Digital Age, you need to keep the online conversation with your clients going through email as you would in real life. For instance, provide future recommendations based on previous purchases to the client. After I browse ShopBop or make a purchase, I receive an e-mail weeks later suggesting clothing that I might like based on my past shopping experiences.

Sites using this type of search and browse capability are designed to work for people who research and take a period of time before making a committed decision. In today’s market, researched buyers are becoming the norm and the buying cycle is changing. The impulsive spendthrift is a dying species. Marketers need to be a step ahead of the curve. Web marketing should not be about gimmicks to get attention from a prospective buyer – today’s savvy consumers will see through this. Instead it is about understanding the keywords that buyers are using and then positioning campaigns to engage buyers to webpages full with the content they want (or never knew they wanted). 

How are you using search capabilities on your website to influence visitor action? What are some of your favorite search features provided by your favorite sites?

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Bio: Before joining the Burrellesluce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

Blogger Relations Misconceptions

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

As traditional media continue to downsize and the boundaries between social and traditional media continue to blur, communications professionals are increasingly turning to blogs for exposure. For those that are in PR or marketing  and pitch the media on a regular baDecisionsis, this may come as no surprise; however, I’ve read, seen and heard more than a few bad pieces of advice recently, regarding pitching bloggers. Here are a few of the demands that I’ve responded to or heard lately and my thoughts on them:

We need a list of the top blogs so we can send them a press release. 
There are so many things wrong with this request! First, if the blogger is not a member of the press, then why would you send a press release? Second, what defines “top” blogs to you may not be the same as the requestor. Third, this assumes that blogger outreach, as a tactic, supports your overall PR strategy.    

Back in 2007, Jeremiah Owyang wrote, “Consider not pitching a press release or announcement at all; why not point me to relevant blog posts from the client (non marketing ones) that I’d be willing to add to my blog. Always remember that I’m thinking of my readers first, so if the content is not going to help them, I’m not going to point to it – think backwards.” Even though he wrote it more than three years ago, it’s still sage advice. 

We want to send a blast email to the (blogger) list.
Really? A “blast” email of the same pitch to multiple bloggers? No. You really don’t. Bloggers are unlike the media in that they do not have a “beat,” their “outlet” doesn’t necessarily dictate they write on certain topics, and, often, they are not bound by geographic limitations. You need to research each and every target and customize the pitch accordingly. (BurrellesLuce Media ContactsPlus is one solution that can help you connect and engage with bloggers individually.) If possible, find a connection with the blogger (e.g. boating enthusiast, horse lover, same alma mater, etc.) and leverage it. Follow but don’t stalk.

Case in point: Heather Whaling (aka @prtini) received this reply from a blogger after receiving her pitch not long ago: “I really appreciate you taking the time to know a little bit about me before you emailed me. You have no idea what a difference that personalization makes. Or, maybe you do. But in case you don’t hear it enough, good job!” 

PRBC co-founder Marie Baker, recently coined the term “blogger bombardment” to describe this paradigm shift. And Last week, an AmericanExpress OPEN Forum post replied to the argument, “But that means I can’t send out a mass email to hundreds of BCC’d recipients.” With this analogy…Exactly. It’s like getting a hand-written envelope via snail-mail; the recipient is much more likely to act on it if it’s personal and relevant to her blog.

I don’t want us / you to spend a lot of time on this.
<Sigh> I can’t say it any better than the guys over at The Bad Pitch Blog did: “Does this read like a lot of work? Well as the definition of a media outlet morphs, so must our approach to engaging with them. And as more and more bloggers extend the olive branch, the price of a bad pitch is increasing — less coverage, whiny bloggers, angry clients and amused competitors.”

Bottom line?  If your news doesn’t warrant this caliber of effort, then you shouldn’t be pitching it at all!

Why Are Marketing and PR Professionals Using Geo-Location or Location-Based Social Media?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

foursquare2This past April, I asked if geo-location social media is the next big thing for PR? Five months later, some are still trying to figure it out. At a panel I recently moderated for the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NCC) I found some in the audience were very knowledgeable and just looking for additional tips, while others wanted to know how to login.

To summarize the panel: location apps (e.g., Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt) serve as another way to enhance a consumer or stakeholder’s experience and interaction with your company, brand, or client. 

Tara Dunion, Consumer Electronics Association, looks to enhance the attendee experience at the International Consumer Electronics Show each January by creating an official location page on Foursquare and aggregating all the social media coverage on the website. (And they even plan to add additional locations for 2011). She commented that many exhibitors have multiple locations available for check-in, which also buys-into the game aspect of Foursquare.

Danielle Brigida says, The National Wildlife Federation wants to get you outside enjoying nature, so they employ Whrrl and Foursquare to help people share their experiences with others.  Whrrl works well for their needs because it allows the user to upload a picture to help tell their story.

A recent story on Mashable by Dan Klamm highlighted how universities and colleges can use location-based tools to promote the school, foster school spirit, drive revenue and promote the community. One idea included offering special badges for exploring places on campus.

However, not all location-based tools are gaining momentum. When Facebook Places premiered, Foursquare had a record number of new sign-ins because it connects with the new Facebook app. A few weeks later, few people are using Facebook Places. Dan Frommer explored the possible reasons on Business Insider, commenting, “Only 2% of My Friends Are Using Facebook Places…”

After the panel ended, I enjoyed brainstorming with others on how they might use these tools to help their organizations. How could you add geo-location social media into your PR toolbox? What questions do you have about the tools? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Online Media Monitoring: An Essential Part of Listening

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Online Media MonitoringIs it really necessary for companies to monitor social media in order to interact with their customers? Or is there a better way to observe and report on your client base?

Rick Mans believes this to be so in his blog post entitled, Why Companies Should Not Invest in Online Monitoring, featured on Social Media Today. He writes that “If companies really cared about what was going on, they would have invested in such a social infrastructure that complaints/news about their products and services would come to them in no time.”

He goes even further by stating “…monitoring tools are a poor man’s solution to engage with your audience… when you are in touch with your audience and your audience can find you and you have created a group of loyal people (brand ambassadors / evangelists) around your online presence, you won’t need monitoring tools to discover complaints.”

This runs counterpoint to a contention of the modern business age that all social media must be monitored in order to truly be in touch with all of your customer feedback.

However, I believe the point Mans attempts to make is that if the proper feedback infrastructure is created internally, then the monitoring of online media will only be redundant. Moreover, no news should be breaking in the world of social media that you shouldn’t have been made aware of and are already working towards either finding a solution or a way to profit from it.

In a perfect world this may be so. Even if companies create their own customer feedback rail network, they still must possess the ability to anticipate the response in the social media world in order to best deal directly with their client base. After all, if a customer truly cares enough, they will vent or praise in their preferred online outlet (be that Facebook, Twitter, or some other forum) regardless of whether a company maintains a presence there or not.

Thus, it is imperative that we do both – monitor online media and genuinely listen to and engage with constituents. That is why BurrellesLuce is working even harder to create even more tools to help you listen, manage, and respond to the activities taking place in both traditional and online news, social media, and broadcast. Stay tuned in the coming month(s) as we unveil new ways for you to effectively take charge of your WorkFlow.  

In the meantime, what do you think? Is it critical to incorporate online monitoring into the larger engagement funnel or is it merely a show put on by companies? How are you using online monitoring in your public relations and marketing efforts? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of Fresh Ideas.