eReleases: Case Study in Excellent Customer Service

ereleases box

When you hear the phrase “customer service” do you cringe? Many of us associate “customer service” with a problem. We typically only deal with customer service personnel when we’ve encountered something undesirable, such as when our email stops working, or we receive the wrong product in the mail. But, really, customer service isn’t just about dealing with problems. Customer service should be about giving our clients what they want and what they need (often two different things).

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve received such amazing customer service from eReleases, the press release distribution service, that I’m going to be using them as my new role model for how to treat customers. Their service truly was best-in-class.

Here’s what they did right, and what all organizations should emulate:

Answer questions promptly. I knew that I wanted to issue a press release to announce a new pricing guide I had written for ghostwriters but I wasn’t sure which online distribution service to use. I went back and forth between eReleases and another well-known provider.

A friend suggested I verify that the companies were going to be able to get my press release in front of the two major publications for writers. I emailed the other service to ask and heard back fairly quickly that they didn’t. Using Live Chat, I got a response immediately from eReleases.

Not only did they confirm that they distribute to the two magazines I wanted, but Sarah, the representative I chatted with, wanted to make sure I had the discount code that would save me $130 off my first release.

Sarah even helped me figure out why the code wasn’t working when I went to place my order and helped me submit my request.

Follow-up by phone. After placing the order online, I received a phone call from an eReleases staffer to make sure all my questions had been answered about the process of distributing the release. They had.

Update me regularly. As my press release wound its way through the eReleases work process, I received emails updating me on its progress. I knew when it had been approved for dissemination by eReleases editors, I received a confirmation when it went out, followed by a summary report at two hours and end-of-day.

The report shared which websites had picked up my release and used it and how many people had clicked to read it. I can log in now to see where else my release has appeared whenever I like.

To this point, eReleases had done an excellent job of giving me all that I needed. What happened next is what made the experience exceptional.

Make it personal. After my press release went out I received an email with a photo of eReleases staffers in their office and a personalized welcome message within the photo. I got to see what helpful Sarah looks like and to get a sense that there are many friendly people like Sarah employed by eReleases.

Surprise me. A few days later UPS dropped off a package at my door. It was a good sized box filled with goodies from eReleases and a thank you note. There was a letter welcoming me into the fold, a workbook on press release writing by eReleases founder Mickie Kennedy, a book on promotion by JJ Ramberg, a lollipop, a spa package in a box, and a few other little presents. All unexpected but very much appreciated.

Provide help with my business. About a week after my first press release went out, eReleases emailed me a personalized list of four potential topics for future press releases. These were clearly prepared based on research about my business and a look at my website; they were not generic.

Did I ask for any of these extras? No. Did I appreciate them? You betcha. Can my business use them? It sure can.

Want to make a good impression on a new client? Go out of your way, as eReleases did, to give your clients exactly what they need and more. Then make them feel special, appreciated.

What do you do to make your clients feel appreciated?

3 Ways a Content Pro Can Save Your Neck

Communications professionals know how to write. It’s what you do day-in and day-out. Yet there are times when it makes sense to turn some of that writing work over to someone else – to a content creator.

Like when you’re already putting in 10-hour days, or when you have an important launch coming up and you’re a little behind schedule (okay, maybe you’re really behind schedule). Working harder isn’t going to cut it – you’re already doing that. It’s time to give that work over to someone else to finish. Here’s why:

  1. Content pros will get the job done faster. That’s because, unlike you, they don’t have department meetings to go to or tedious conference calls they have to be on. They don’t travel as much as you do nor do they have an overflowing inbox of memos. They’re not part of your organization so they can focus on getting the job done. Fast. That blog post that would take you two days to research? You can have it in a few hours.
  1. They can double your productivity. Know that executive profile you have to submit tomorrow for the company newsletter? The one you haven’t even started – the one you don’t have time to start because of the white paper you’re working on? Your best option is to turn that profile over to a content writer. They can then schedule that interview with the executive this afternoon and get you a draft article first thing tomorrow. You can stay focused on your top priority project and still get that other top priority project done.
  1. Their level of creativity will be higher. You’re a specialist in your industry – you know it inside and out. You’re immersed in it 24/7. But writers have a broader view. They pay attention to the media, to what’s happening in other sectors and other parts of the world, so they have a different perspective. They’re often able to apply information from other industries to yours, making the breadth and depth of your content much better. You get content with a twist. A good twist.

Even if you aren’t overloaded with work at the moment, delegating projects to content pros can only make you look good.

Why Writing Well Matters

The words you use and the way you string them together with punctuation often provide someone’s first impression of you. And since “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” as the old saying goes, spelling, grammar, and capitalization can make or break your brand’s overall status.

Of course, if your company services teens and 20-somethings, who frequently communicate via text using acronyms and phonetic short-cuts, correct spelling may not even be recognized. Older adults, however, may notice, and may question your company’s attention to detail. The decision regarding how much emphasis to place on writing rules is up to you – and many CEOs these days don’t seem too concerned – but understand that mistakes do damage your brand equity.

Remember Victoria’s Secret’s embarrassing recent advertisement that claimed: “You’ve never seen body’s like this!” Granted, they had a new product line called “Body,” but the usage in the ad sounded silly, and incorrect.

Or did you see the SodaStream ad that claimed, “Less sugar, less bottles.” You mean “fewer bottles?”

A few years ago, Old Navy recalled t-shirts that exclaimed, “Lets go!” That missing apostrophe sure cost a pretty penny, I’ll bet.

How do these expensive gaffes occur, you have to wonder? Do the companies not know or not care?

There are some entrepreneurs and business execs who place considerable importance on proper word choice. Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and founder of Dozuki, for example.

To ensure his employees are providing a positive impression of his companies, Wiens requires that every applicant take and pass a grammar test. In fact, in an HBR Blog post, Wiens goes so far as to say, “I have a ‘zero tolerance approach’ to grammar mistakes that make people look stupid.”

He thinks poor grammar and word choice makes his employees, and by extension his company, look stupid.

He’s right.

Believe it or not, bad writing can cost your company serious money. No, I’m not talking about the potential lawsuits due to miscommunication, but the impact of poor writing on the company’s business and reputation. PowerSuasion created a nifty calculator that tells you how much your company is losing due to poor writing each year. You may be surprised at how large the number is (I was).

The larger the organization, the more costly poor word choice or grammatical gaffes are costing you – in damage to your brand and in higher expenses due to miscommunication.

4 Steps to Becoming a Business Thought Leader

Seth Godin. Sheryl Sandberg. Malcolm Gladwell. These are big names – names you’ve undoubtedly heard of. They are thought leaders – authorities, influencers, who are changing how business is done.

If you aspire to become the go-to authority in your field or niche, there are a few steps you should start taking today. Because it can take a little time to build a reputation and to amass loyal followers.

 

1. Take an off-beat position.

Zig when everyone else is zagging. To get noticed, you need to craft a message that is not what everyone else is saying. To stand out, yours needs to be counter-intuitive, or at least counter to the current consensus. If you’ve read 100 times that direct mail is dead, perhaps you disagree – strongly – and explain why. Or maybe, unlike Ariana Huffington, you think work/life balance is overrated.

Taking a position counter to the masses does a couple of things. It captures attention, from colleagues and the media, and it distinguishes you from everyone else.

2. Build a community.

Once you’ve got everyone’s attention, it’s time to start converting friends and colleagues into comrades. Create a community through social media so that you can continue to share your message and attract like-minded people into your fold.

Network, in person and online, to spread your message. Set up platforms to connect members of your community, such as through:

–       Facebook fan pages

–       LinkedIn Groups

–       MeetUps

–       Google Hangouts

Of course, you don’t need to do this work yourself, but it should be done systematically.

3. Speak.

Speaking engagements that put you at the front of the room and make it immediately clear that you are the leader, can only continue to fuel your thought leader positioning. Pursue local, regional, and national opportunities to share your message with your target audience.

Look into:

– Professional conferences

– Industry meetings

– Civic organizations

– Ted Talks

– Podcasts

– Teleseminars

 

4. Write.

Social media is powerful, but to maintain control of your message, you need to be creating new content that supports your position. This content can be presented in a number of forms:

–       Blog posts

–       Press releases

–       Case studies

–       Bylined articles

–       White papers

–       E-books

–       Pamphlets

–       Books

 

That content then needs to be shared with as broad an audience as possible, which is where social media can prove most useful:

–       Share links to articles and blog posts with your audience

–       Ask your community to share your work with their followers

–       Drive traffic to your blog or website to identify your followers

–       Make sure everyone in your organization is aware of your message

 

Associating your name with a particular position, cause, or concept isn’t hard if you’ve followed these four steps. Granted, it won’t happen overnight and it will take work, but it can certainly be done.