I can’t tell you how many times I have called a receptionist at a law firm and the person on the other end of the phone does not know the names of their marketing or PR staff.   The same goes for calling a company and having the person on the other end of the line be dismissive about my request to connect with someone who can help me solve my problem.  It’s very frustrating.

There is a lot of talk amongst the PR community about customer loyalty being tied to customer service .    A recent study from CFI group explores call center satisfaction and how they are rapidly transforming into contact centers; raising customer satisfaction and likely recommendations.   Another recent study by AchieveGlobal , a global workforce development firm, explored the emotional aspect of customer service by revealing that customers prefer good service to problem resolution: one in three respondents preferred being treated well over having their issues resolved immediately.   Public relations includes, well, relating to the public. More than just media relations and article placement, when done right public relations must involve staff and attorney training including the fundamental skills how to interact with firm clients.

AchieveGlobal’s , further reveals that the behaviors most irritating to customers stem from detached emotional awareness and connection. Almost half (46 percent) of respondents noted that being rude, short, nasty, unhelpful and impatient was the greatest customer service mistake that they have experienced. Using a canned script in dealing with issues (17 percent) and saying “no” or “I don’t know” (16 percent) also ranked amongst the top customer experience failures.

A firm’s communication team should be involved with customer service training.  PR is critical to the success of a firm’s public image.   A negative client experience not only threatens the reputation of the brand, but it may impact whether a firm gets a referral or more work from the client.  And, no amount of media or article placements can overcome those bad customer experiences.

short001btn Relating to the Public: The Customer Service/Customer Loyalty Connection

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by Cheryl on December 3, 2012

The Recorder published an article today about a 2011 defamation lawsuit San Francisco-based attorney brought against a former client that may create new law and possibly will serve as a warning to lawyers: Market yourself enough, and you become an assailable public figure.   The lawsuit against Elliot Blumberg, a hedge fund manager, resulted from Blumberg’s “scathing” review of Gwire on the consumer site complaintsboard.com .

Review sites like complaintsboard.com have created a PR nightmare for lawyers and other professionals. It’s tough to get rid of them. I recently dealt with a possible ‘defamation’ situation involving a lawyer and a disgruntled defendant, but was told that the positing on the Internet is considered free speech and there was not much we could do to stop the individual from posting more defamatory comments.

But Gwire’s case raises another question. Could it discourage lawyers from promoting themselves if a judge finds Gwire to be a limited-purpose public figure as a result of his aggressive marketing efforts?

The Recorder quoted several attorneys about the issue including of Skaggs Faucette in Palo Alto who wrote in the appeal brief, ”Gwire’s voluntary self-promotion, use of the media for his professional advancement, and purported expertise regarding attorney billing practices and the performance of other attorneys makes his own performance as an attorney fair game for criticisms like those levied by Blumberg.”

Skaggs says the review is protected speech — not just because Blumberg has evidence to back up the claim that Gwire mishandled his case, but because Gwire has lost some protections against public criticism by aggressively marketing himself as a top-flight lawyer.

Kelli Sager, a Davis Wright Tremaine who defends defamation cases, explained that “a lawyer who seeks out opportunities to be in the press, gives speeches, appears publicly, writes articles and does all the things that cause one to be well-known that go beyond being a lawyer may become a public figure.”

Sager added that most lawyers don’t even think about the possibility of becoming public figures by marketing themselves extensively.

Jeremy Rosen, a free-speech expert at Horvitz & Levy , cautioned that First Amendment law is “murky” and that case outcomes vary widely nationwide. The “better reasoned” lines of cases, he said, “is one that would say if you market yourself in the particular area and the lawsuit is about your work in that area then you are a limited public figure.” But not all judges agree, and rulings tend to rely heavily on the specific fact patterns.

“There’s not a consistent bright-line rule,” he said.

Despite what happens in this case, I do not think lawyers should stop promoting themselves. That’s not just because I am active member of the legal marketing community, but because marketing and PR play an important role in doing business, attracting new clients and developing thought leadership. In today’s business climate, an attorney can’t afford not to promote him or herself.   I would hate to see that go away as a result of this case.

short001btn Despite Recent CA Court of Appeals Case, Legal Marketing Pays Off

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Who Is Singing Your Praises?

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The best PR platform comes from others singing your praises. Who are your praise singers?  They are your contacts that brag about your services, tell positive stories about your amazing contributions in and outside of the office, and when called upon, give your name to people who are looking for recommendations.    I am lucky [...]

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