The importance of consistent communication
How easy do you find communicating? Do you find replying to emails an afterthought at the end of the day? Does answering telephone calls get in the way of your work? Are client meetings a pain?
Does communicating with your client get in the way of your work?
Perhaps it does, but it is actually part of your work, and the commitment you put into your work output should be reflected in your communication with your clients.
I’m not preaching; I took a call from a company who had sacked their PR agency based on this very scenario.
It became clear the problem wasn’t the agency’s output, it was how the agency communicated with their client.
The PR output was actually good, but like so many agencies, an account handler was in charge of the relationship, not the person who was actually doing the work. Ironically, the account handler didn’t have a handle on the work!
Emails were answered via flippant one-line answers and signed off inappropriately. The tone was extremely casual and the responses held no weight of importance. It was sloppy communication, unprofessional, and in my opinion disrespectful given the investment their client was making in contracting PR services.
But the real problem was the lack of consistency in the communication
The agency’s communication didn’t match the quality of work produced. The work demonstrated a high level of understanding but the account handler didn’t, this alone resulted in the breakdown of the relationship.
You know that feeling, when confusion leads to doubt just because someones behaviour changes or lacks consistency. It’s very easy to get carried away with the work at the expense of communicating with your client. But your customer must always come first, and, yes, there will be obstacles to overcome, but communication is essential to ensure your business relationship doesn’t become unsettling.
The agency hierarchy is a classic inconsistent communication
How many times do you hear companies comment that their last agency sent the directors to pitch, but after winning the work they never saw them again, sending a junior to manage the account instead? This lacks consistency, but above everything else, what do you think the message in this actually says? Maybe it isn’t intentional but you’ve just told your client they aren’t important.
I had a boss that would always say you would never find a printer that could provide speed, quality, and a competitive price in one package. He believed one of the three would always be compromised, he was right, even to this day I still hear his mantra. Could a similar equation be applied to PR agencies? Output, relationship, and price?
Perhaps it isn’t possible but being realistic is, you will know what is achievable with the resources you have and within the terms of the contract – don’t over promise and if something isn’t right hold your hands up and admit it and change it.
My final say on this is that consistency really is the key, so please don’t ignore your communication.