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  • Tag Archive: customer success

    1. How to Write an Email Your Customers Will Give a Crap About

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      “You’ve Got Mail” — not just a classic rom-com but an alert that really rocked the working world.

      In the ‘90s, email was one of the most welcomed inventions to hit a professional’s day-to-day. It streamlined communication, ensured multiple people were simultaneously “looped in” and enabled business professionals to be more organized and accountable. People were excited when they heard the “ding” of a new item in their inboxes… okay, maybe “excited” is an overstatement but it really was pretty novel.

      Nowadays, email notifications are more likely to elicit cringing or rising blood pressure. In this age of overflowing inboxes and forgotten emails (when they’re not Boomeranged), how can we prevent our personalized messages to clients, customers, and colleagues from getting lost in the shuffle of mass-marketed newsletters?

      As a PR Engineer, I spend a lot of time writing emails to AirPR customers with the goal of informing them about the functionalities and features of our PR measurement and reporting software. I’ve noticed that the emails that garner the most attention have a few things in common. Here are my tips for writing better customer emails:

      1. Clearly identify the goal from the get-go.

      How many emails have you skimmed through and thought: What exactly is this email about again? The goal of your email should be spelled out in the first sentence or two.

      Here are some new features we’d like to share with you…

      I need to know X, Y, and Z in order to better serve you…

      I’m following up on what we discussed in our last meeting…  

      Avoid overcomplicating the topic or dancing around the bush. And if it’s difficult to explain your purpose in writing, you should probably hop on the phone instead.

      2. Make it far shorter than you think it should be.

      Save yourself and the recipient time by cutting to the chase. What are you really trying to say? I’m definitely guilty of spending an inordinate amount of time crafting flowery emails, explaining things down to the minutia. But unless the person you’re emailing needs to know every detail, keep it simple especially if you’re emailing a busy executive.

      Have you ever heard of the 70% Noise Reduction Rule? Write what you need to communicate then cut it down by a whopping 70%. It’s easier said than done but you’d be surprised by how tight and effective you can get your message when you force yourself to slice.

      3. Articulate next steps clearly.

      If you’ve been able to keep someone’s attention long enough to read your entire email, fab’ job! Now, it’s time to be crystal clear about next steps so they’re not playing the guessing game. Do you need them to take action? Bold, italicize, or underline your request to catch the reader’s attention and inspire action.

      If the onus is on you, tell the reader about your next move: I will follow up in a week with an analysis of the success of your recent press mention.

      4. Shorten your subject line.

      There isn’t much real estate to utilize here to begin with, but you can pack a punch with a short, focused subject line. MailChimp suggests writing subject lines of 50 characters or fewer but I’ve also heard that subject lines with the sweet spot of six to 10 words generate a 21 percent open rate.

      It also helps to include a short disclaimer at the beginning of your subject line, whether it’s [Please Review], URGENT, or your company name followed by a colon and the email topic. Anything that can signal the gist of your email to your recipient quickly as they scan their inbox (without having to actually open the email) is a good thing.

      Have any effective customer success email tactics of your own? Pet peeves welcome too!

      How to Write an Email

      Last week, PR Engineer Kelly Byrd shared how to use data to ensure content success. Next week, AirPR’s Chief Strategy Officer Rebekah Iliff will share her secrets for writing effective bylines to top off our Optimizing PR Fundamentals series. Stay tuned!

    2. 5 Tactics For Ensuring Customer Success

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      What do you think makes a B2B company successful? Turning a profit? Going public? Rapid growth? If you put yourself in the shoes of a customer success manager (shoes I’ve filled more than once), the correct answer will be revealed… If your customers are succeeding (with your tools, support, and encouragement), then you’re succeeding too. What makes a company thrive is really that simple.  

      I recently took a look back at a Mashable article written by our Chief Strategy Officer, Rebekah Iliff, which explored the fact that some of the most successful PR strategies are the ones that require a “customer-as-the-hero approach.” I couldn’t agree more. A company’s success is relative to how good that company is at solving their customers’ problems. And smart brands such as Western Union, and even celebrities such as Adele, have become magnificent at bringing their customer stories to the forefront of their own narratives.

      In light of the “customer-as-a-hero approach,” I’m sharing my go-to tactics for ensuring success from a customer/client management perspective. Because when you have the foundational skills for maintaining and growing relationships, you have what you both need to succeed.

      #1 – Develop a personal rapport.

      For most customer success managers, it’s a marathon not a sprint. In addition to onboarding and training new customers, you are also responsible for cultivating power users and external champions for your brand. Plus, if you’ve successfully developed a personal relationship with a customer, you will be in a better position to solicit real, honest feedback which will ultimately help you improve your product or service.

      Customer satisfaction scale and testimonials concept with happy human fingers on a blackboard#2 – Manage Expectations.

      Setting the tone for your relationship is important from the get-go. If you’re anything like me, you may have a tendency to over deliver. At first glance, “over-serving” a customer sounds like a good thing, but it’s not always sustainable nor is it scalable. Clearly, you want to woo your customers and help set them up for success, but that doesn’t mean you should do everything the customer requests at the drop of a hat or respond to emails when you should be sleeping.

      Instead, develop your own policy for meeting your clients halfway so that there’s a mutual understanding that your relationship is akin to a partnership. If you receive an email with a list of questions about your product, what is a realistic turnaround time? What’s your company’s policy on responding to customer outreach? Don’t forget you have your own internal meetings, overflowing inbox, etc. to juggle, and “an organized you” will make for more customer success in the long run.

      #3 – Maintain a positive attitude. No excuses.

      Being friendly, thoughtful, and considerate goes a long way (because we all know the last thing a customer wants to do is be around someone who trash-talks a competitor or is a Debbie Downer, in general). Remember that you’re the face of the company and it’s your duty to represent the brand in a positive light. Also, enthusiasm is contagious, and the best way for a customer to get excited about your product or service is through your energy.

      #4 – Be direct.

      Contrary to popular belief, you can be direct and positive at the same time. I’ve spent a lot, and I mean a lot, of time crafting lengthy emails including flowery language, i.e. explaining why things are the way they are, etc. We’re all busy, and there is no need to dance around an issue or add unnecessary language as filler. Customers will appreciate a short, clear, and to-the-point email because their time is precious just like yours. If you’re struggling with directness, consider the 70% Noise Reduction Rule.

      #5 – Be human, and show your appreciation.

      If your company’s product or service is working the way it should, your customer will succeed and thank you for it. It almost goes without saying that you should be showing your appreciation for your customer and their business too. Show them the type of professional you are by way of a small, thoughtful gesture such as sending them a link to an article you think is relevant to their business or a little treat on their birthday. (Sounds a little corny, but we all saw you smile the last time a mystery cupcake arrived.)

      The moral of the story…

      You don’t have to be the bend-over-backwards car salesmen of yesteryear to make your customers happy, but it does take work. Your business is only as successful as your customers, so be supportive, be real, and let them know that, yes—they are your company’s biggest champions.

      Thanks, (author) Rachel! Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR…

      AndresPortillo

    3. A Day In The Life Of A PR Engineer

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      Whether or not the latest role moniker is adopted by an industry often has to do with the value brought by those who pioneer the title. You may have even seen how we wholeheartedly adopted the PR Engineer term back in 2014, but what you may not know is what the heck a PR Engineer does or why we’re so obsessed with this role.

      You can probably tell from the title that PR Engineers sit at the intersection of data and storytelling, which is exactly where every single business needs to be in order to stand out and surpass competition. Now let’s dig a little deeper into what comprises this unique, emerging role.

      Below is an interview with PR Engineer Rachel Kirschen, so you can better understand why we think this role is poised to be the next big thing.

      Leta Soza: Alright, Rachel. What exactly does a PR Engineer do and how does this role fit into the greater PR picture?

      Rachel Kirschen: As a PR Engineer, I work directly with our customer base to ensure they are extracting the most value from our PR analytics, insights, and measurement platform. We then use the data provided in the platform to optimize and inform their PR efforts.

      The entire PR industry is making moves towards a data-driven approach to optimization and outcomes, so my expertise in how data can be applied to the PR discipline helps build the bridge from the industry’s past to its exciting future.

      Besides being customer-facing, I am also a platform expert, a liaison to the engineering team, a contributor to product innovation, and a brand champion. It may seem like a lot of touchpoints for one role, but that’s the best part about being a PR Engineer. I am uniquely positioned to inform pretty much every part of my organization.


      A Day In The Life of A PR EngineerLS: Walk me through a day in the life of a PR Engineer. What does the pie chart of your role look like?

      RK: No two days are ever alike, but my time typically breaks down into the following buckets:

      • 25% = Customer Collaboration & Management: Facilitating onboarding, ensuring data cleanliness, setting product goals
      • 30% = Data Mining: Identifying patterns, surfacing interesting tidbits, plucking out compelling insights
      • 20% = Strategy Development: Knowledge transfers, recommendations based on industry shifts, unearthing storytelling opportunities
      • 15% = Product Innovation: Communicating customer feedback, streamlining and improving processes, feature brainstorming
      • 10% = Content & Education: Bringing best practices to light, writing blog posts, building out tutorials

      LS: When you first encountered the opportunity to become a PR Engineer, what excited you about the role?

      RK: My background is in account and project management, so what really piqued my interest was the word “engineer” in the title. Before joining the tech world, I never had a full appreciation for the work engineers do, but now I understand that engineering is as much about problem solving as it is about building stuff.

      I love having a job that straddles tech and information. I get to exist in both worlds and help PR see the value each brings to the table while demonstrating the magic that happens when these two forces work together.

      The PR Engineer does have a substantial technical component to it. I don’t write code or fix bugs, but I do command our product while being the middle woman between our end users and the engineering team.

      Providing our engineers with information about how people are using our product is a really important feedback loop. But it requires a great deal of emotional intelligence because you have to learn how to communicate effectively with two very different sets of people, engineers and customers.

      Being in this role means living and breathing customer data, engineering customer PR strategies, and working closely with the tech team to ensure that we are looking at every product decision through a customer-centric lens.

      LS: What is the best thing about being a PR Engineer?

      RK: The best part about being a PR Engineer is that every day brings something new. This can definitely be a challenge, but the opportunity to learn something every day is thrilling. A culture of constant learning was one of the main reasons I decided to become a PR Engineer.

      My other favorite part of being a PR Engineer is working with a team who is so passionate about the work we do. Every single person at AirPR is committed to building the best product and fundamentally changing the way people value and do PR. It’s not every day you get the chance to stand at the edge of innovation and be a leading voice of change for an entire industry.

      LS: What are some skills that lend themselves to achieving success as a PR Engineer?  

      RK: Excellent communication skills via various channels (email, phone, in-person) are paramount. When you touch as many departments as I do, you have to know how to “speak” your audience’s language.

      Listening goes hand in hand with clear, succinct communication. I often find myself wanting to take lots of notes during customer conversations, but recently I’ve discovered that I hear the most when I intently listen and cut out even the smallest distraction (e.g. my keyboard).

      As corny as it sounds, having a good attitude and being friendly goes a long way too. Being a PR Engineer can be stressful and when the pace is non-stop, it’s so important to smile and remind yourself that there will always be challenges to overcome and problems to solve.

      But that’s why the job rocks! Nothing on the cutting edge is ever boring or banal. Nor would I want it to be. 🙂

      LS: Any parting words of wisdom?

      RK: I think the only other thing I would say is that there is no perfect mix of prior experience that comes before being a PR Engineer. If you love storytelling, are fascinated by numbers, value relationships, and believe in collaboration, then this is likely the perfect role for you.

      Being a PR Engineer allows you to tap a tremendous number of skills and just like PR itself the role is a layer, not a silo. The most important characteristic of any PR Engineer is intellectual curiosity because at the end of the day, we are exploring uncharted territory and that requires a firm mental adherence to pressing onward and upward at all times.

      Want to learn more exciting PR Engineer career opportunities? Think the PR Engineer role could be the perfect fit for you? Be sure to learn more here and get in touch! (jobs@airpr.com)

    4. PR & Customer Success: 2 Sides Of The Same Coin

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      In PR, we like to draw comparisons. It helps emphasize a point, enhance a story or create a connection between two seemingly unrelated things.

      Along those lines, I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison between PR and one of the fastest growing roles sweeping the SaaS industry: Customer Success.

      Whaaaat you may say? What on earth does my client’s PR campaign have in common with Customer Success (CS)? As a PR Engineer at AirPR, I’m in a funky [unique] position where I wear both PR and CS hats, and it recently occurred to me that despite which hat I may be wearing, I find myself tapping a similar “soft” skill set.

      PR-and-customer-successBelow, I’ve outlined 5 skills I’m constantly utilizing as I toggle between PR and Customer Success.The key takeaway: as long as there are people running the planet and business depends on customers to operate, there are core principles that can apply to most, if not all, service-oriented roles.

      1. Personalization

      In PR, you can’t just have a one-size-fits-all approach to interacting with all of your clients and the same goes for Customer Success. It’s important to get to know your clients personally so you can better understand their business, pain points and goals they’re working towards. Understanding these fundamentals allows you to formulate a more comprehensive PR strategy and intelligently communicate with your client about their company and industry.

      The same personalized attention is crucial in Customer Success. You have to put the time in to learn a customer’s business and objectives in order to be able to provide the support they need – regardless of what service or product you’re providing. It’s also important to note that the level of support required and the demands of each customer varies. Some customers simply require more TLC than others.

      2. Communication

      It is no secret that PR pros live and breathe communication. It powers everything we do for our clients and there is something “so meta” to communicating our communications. We need to be able to effectively convey the work we’re doing, while asking the right questions and staying cool, calm and collected when the inevitable s$*% hits the fan. We dance on a fine line between over communicating, under communicating and communicating just the right amount at just the right frequency.

      Communication is just as important when is comes to CS. One of the major goals of Customer Success is to minimize the input of time/energy/work by the customer while maximizing the output and value they receive from the product or service. A customer’s time is precious so you want to take full advantage whenever you have it and use it both efficiently and effectively.

      3. Relationships

      Since relations puts the “R” in PR, the relationships you have with your clients, not to mention with the media, creates the foundation of PR’s work. From knowing the date of a product launch to remembering their favorite bottle of wine, developing a rapport with you clients is a crucial to being successful.

      Nurturing customer relationships is just as integral on the CS side. One of the most important skills Customer Success Managers need to have is the ability to understand their customers. Reading between the lines of a customer’s response, providing support when they ask for it (or even when they don’t know they need it) and being mindful of important company milestones all contribute to fostering strong customer relationships.

      Paul Caine, Global Chief Revenue and Client Partnerships Officer at Bloomberg Media recently said that “Data doesn’t drive decisions, people do.”  Which leads us to the next skill…

      4. Retention

      First you have to win the business, but then more importantly you have to keep it. Retaining a customer is a lot easier said than done, and just because you sip cocktails at happy hour with a customer doesn’t means they see the value in your platform. And even if your client was impressed by your PR strategy doesn’t guarantee they’re going to hire you for their next campaign.

      Customer retention is always a work in progress. It’s making sure the wheels keep turning and the customer is in a sweet spot between being “stuck” to the product or service and continuing to see return of their investment plus a future benefit. Since there is no magic equation that guarantees customer satisfaction, the notion of retention keeps both PR pros and CSMs constantly on our toes.

      5. Measurement

      And lastly, like most of the data driven world we live in today, we have to let the numbers speak for themselves. You can be proud of your CS team’s low churn percentage and PR pros should tout that their stellar pitches landed stories in 10 top tier outlets. However, in both Customer Success and PR there will always be room for qualitative measurement because of the human factor. You can’t always stamp a rating on a brainstorming session, nor tack on a Net Promoter Score (NPS) score to an appreciative customer email, and that’s ok. With the increasing amount of data available to help power CS efforts and the sophistication of PR analytics tools being able to more accurately capture the ROI of PR, we have more data available than ever, and this fact will help us all increase both success and performance.

      We’ll leave you with one final comparison. What else do these 5 fundamentals have in common besides being crucial to both PR and CS? They all focus on the same top priority: The customer.

    5. 6 Marketing and Sales Tactics to Avoid Like the Plague

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      When you’re a busy entrepreneur, there’s nothing worse than having your time wasted. A lot of frustration can occur as a result of others’ carelessness and disregard for your busy schedule and crowded inbox.

      Many sales and marketing professionals continually miss the mark when it comes to outreach practices. From sub-par sales pitches to irrelevant follow up emails, these misfires can result in radio silence, bad word of mouth, or even worse, lost revenue.

      So how can you be sure you’re not wasting a potential customer’s valuable time (or worse: pissing them off!) while still accomplishing your sales or marketing agenda?

      First and foremost, take a good hard look at every communication you send through a “utility lens”. Is what you’re sending actually helpful or is it just adding to the noise?

      Next, think about everything you’ve encountered that secretly made you seethe inside…then do the opposite. You’ll be amazed what you uncover when you turn a critical eye to your own experiences.

      Since we’re big believers of putting our money where our mouth is, we decided to cull together 6 sales and marketing tactics we’ve recently endured. Real talk: we’ve experienced EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE at some point in the last 60 days.

      If you’re the one calling the shots in terms of sales and marketing content, or you are squarely positioned in front of the customer, do yourself a favor and avoid these at all costs…

      1. Distracting pop ups during demos

      I think it’s awesome your team does Happy Hour on Wednesday at 4pm, but please keep calendar reminders, text messages, or other distracting notifications from popping up during a screen share demo. It’s unprofessional and let’s be real, I’m more apt to be nosy about your social life than pay attention to your product. Don’t let digital distractions steal the show.

      (more…)