Leo Bottary's Insights on Client Service

Only blogging since June of 2006, Leo Bottary’s Client Service Insights is quickly becoming one of the more well-known marketing blogs in the biz. In his interview, Leo offers some interesting thoughts on customer service from an agency perspective, and also blogging. The Hill & Knowlton pro says look to the presidential election for real Web 2.0 innovation. Here are Leo’s Insights!

How did the Client Service Insights blog become one of the higher ranked blogs so quickly?

As of today my Technorati Ranking is in the low 50,000 range. Relatively speaking that isn’t so bad I guess. Gaining readership in the blogosphere is about being consistent and being relevant. I try to do the best I can at both, but I have a long way to go. I learn from other bloggers, and it also helps being part of H&K’s Collective Conversation. People visit because I live in a good neighborhood so to speak.

What would be the three most important client service tips you could offer to PR pros?

If I have to commit to three it’s: be a great listener; reach agreement with your client upfront on the definition of success; and don’t just keep up, stay one step ahead!

How has blogging benefited your business?

I think it’s benefited how well I practice my business, and I hope it’s helped others as well. I started my blog because I felt woefully unequipped to handle the increasing number of questions relating to Web 2.0. I knew if I were ever to learn, I had to get into the game. I’ve only been blogging since June of 2006, but it’s been an incredible education.

What’s more, it’s offered me a forum to talk about an aspect of this business that I truly enjoy – client service. Consider all the time and effort agencies put into winning new clients. If they put half that effort into keeping and growing the business they have, then they’d grow faster and run more profitably. And, by the way, if an agency truly becomes renowned for its client service excellence, where do you think most prospects would like to take their business?

How critical are blogs to a large agency like Hill & Knowlton? How does the culture embrace blogging?

Niall Cook at our London office deserves the lion’s share of the credit when it comes to the role blogging plays at Hill & Knowlton. Is our culture embracing blogging? A few people are, but most of them are just waving or shaking hands with it for the time being. That being said, I think our people are warming up to it by the day.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the blogosphere?

Let me answer this from a client perspective, and I’ll use your term “embracing.” Many clients don’t know how to engage it. Most want to pretend that blogs aren’t even in the room, others are observing, waving, shaking hands – but not much embracing going on.

Many companies really struggle with employees who have blogs. As more companies embrace the blogosphere and do so successfully, other will follow. For now, I think there’s much to be learned from watching the candidates for President of The United States and how they use Web 2.0 to raise money and garner support.

Do you see social networking as an art or a science?

I see it as an enormous time commitment. I can’t read blogs, comment on them, write a blog, work at Hill & Knowlton, finish my Master’s degree AND participate in social networks. I’m a member at Linked-In, but I’m sure I’m the world’s worst friend/colleague!

Last December’s Time person of the year article really seemed to legitimize blogging and other web 2.0 technologies. What’s next for the blogosphere?

There are many people who understand this subject much better than I, but it is clearly going to play a bigger role in the public relations business. PR professionals and firms that are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that it will all go away are destined to be left behind. On top of that, it’s just bad client service!

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