There really are times when projects aren’t going that well, but keeping your clients informed in spite of shortcomings or challenges, can save that treasured relationship and even boost business. One of the rules to providing exceptional customer service is keeping in touch with your clients and how often.
Here’s an example of a project that almost ended in a complete disaster, but it was saved by a single phone call.
Bill was a new client; and he had contracted my services to promote an upcoming event. The project was halfway done as Bill had let go of the services of the first publicist, mid-way. Just by looking at the project timelines, objectives, deliverables, and goals, I realized that the planned event was difficult to sell to the media. The previous publicist wasn’t able to successfully do so; but still, I decided to give it a try.
In one of my meetings with Bill, he had complained about how my predecessor handled the project badly. Bill mentioned that she had badly laid-out media release plans, basic spelling and grammar errors, and never called him back. The last one made me cringe: “never called back.” When Bill mentioned this, I knew that from the tone of his voice, being consistently informed was his main concern. And yes, like Bill, being ignored is the thing that clients hate the most.
With this in mind, I made sure that I found out when Bill likes to be contacted and how. I gave him regular updates, whether him or I had anything much to say didn’t matter. These calls just lasted just about three minutes each, two times a week. More importantly, if he called, I’ll make sure to call him back within the day.
At the start of the project, Bill liked my media plans and he found that the releases didn’t contain any spelling or grammatical errors. Even though this was the case, I still didn’t get much publicity for the event. Still, I consistently gave him a call, reported the challenges, and explained what my next action plans were. Even though we faced big challenges on the project, our conversations always ended on a constructive and positive note.
Bill wasn’t the only client I was providing services to. During the time, I had multiple clients all with high-demand projects. While I am proud of my efficiency and reliability when handling multiple projects, something unforeseen happened with another client. This caused a snag in my timelines; and the deliverables for Bill’s event were delayed by two days.
I picked up the phone and explained the situation to Bill. I told him what my action plans were, and assured him that everything was still on target. Bill could’ve been furious at these delays. Yes, he was disappointed; but at the end of the call he appreciated my honesty and was satisfied that he wasn’t forgotten. He was also happy to know that I was getting a move on.
In the end, we did get some publicity, but not the amount that we were shooting for. The event didn’t get the numbers that was needed; and it was ultimately cancelled. Based on the results, my relationship with Bill should’ve gone sour; and that would’ve been bad publicity on my end. Yet, Bill still paid me in full. He also told me that he would have me handle another event in the future. He must’ve noticed my doubtful look, and so he said, “I know you did everything you could.” Bill was right, I did everything that I can; and he knew that because I consistently kept him in the loop of what’s happening.
A year later, Bill fulfilled his promise and phoned me back. The event, this time, was the perfect one for media attention. It was a huge success for Bill, myself, and everyone involved. The event also generated new clients for me. Never had I been so grateful that someone called, just like they said they would.