Secretly, every customer wants their experience with a brand to be like the set of Cheers—where everybody knows your name. But how do you build a relationship, especially when you’re managing multiple channels?
On Cheers, or at any neighborhood haunt, there are only so many employees and so many regulars to keep track of. When your business goes online, you’re dealing with thousands of potential customers at any given moment. Mastering a 1:1 feel, even when you’re operating 1:many, is crucial for customer loyalty.
According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index™, 30% of consumers will switch to a competitor if a brand takes too long to respond to questions or feedback. In economic times like these, that’s not a chance worth taking. The key to staying in your customers’ hearts—and wallets—is customer centricity.
What does it mean to be customer-centric?
A customer-centric approach means putting the customer at the forefront of every decision you make as a business. The customer experience should be the starting point for any new initiative, improvement or change you make. In practice, this means actively gathering intel on your customer through surveys or social listening, analyzing that data and proactively giving your customer what they want, or what they don’t yet know they want. Across teams, everyone is working towards keeping their customers happy.
This approach pays off. Over two-thirds (77%) of customers are more likely to increase their spending with brands they feel connected to, up from 57% in 2018, according to Sprout research. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends 2023 Report, leaders are taking notice, with 81% seeing customer experience and support as a growing priority for 2023. Another 71% are looking to revamp their customer journey this year.
As Sprout Social President, Ryan Barretto, has said, “Customer success is the new sales.” Developing relationships with your customers is a nonnegotiable moving forward.
Examples of customer-centric brands on social
Social media is a perfect complement to your customer-centric strategy. Whether you’re connecting with your customers to triage when something goes wrong or communicating with them about a new product or trend, social is the perfect arena for relationship building. Here are four brands embedding social into their customer-centric strategy–and takeaways for how you can do it yourself.
Listening and learning with Cava
Cava, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant, serves up customized bowls and pitas. When they made the decision to discontinue their sweet potatoes, customers were quick to voice their unhappiness on social media. Cava listened to their customers and brought back the popular ingredient, announcing the news with a TikTok video featuring screenshots of customers begging for the tuber’s return.
In this example, Cava recognized their error and shifted accordingly, a key pillar of any customer-centric approach. But they took it a step further. Rather than relaunching sweet potatoes as an internally sourced campaign, they gave credit where credit was due and showed their customers that they’d been listening to their social media pleas.
Obviously, Cava didn’t relaunch an ingredient based on a few comments. This is where social data comes into play. Social listening tools like Sprout’s can help you aggregate the voice of your customer so you can make crowd-pleasing decisions and bring the best possible product to your customers.
Engaging in empathy with ban.do
Relationships, regardless of their form, are built on empathy. This goes for brands as well. Two-thirds of consumers who feel that a company cares about their emotional state are more likely to be repeat customers. But how do you show you care about the emotional state of thousands of individuals at once?
A lifestyle brand, ban.do, managed to capture the frenzy their customers were feeling on Black Friday with a single Tweet.
By focusing on a particular day of the year and understanding their customer, they were able to empathize with all 24,000 followers at once. As a lifestyle brand, ban.do customers are likely to be frequent shoppers, whether that’s with them or across the board. With that information, it’s not hard for a brand to decipher what their customers might be feeling during retail’s busiest season. If your customers are sales professionals, the end of a quarter might be a particularly prominent time for them. If your customers are avid bakers, they might feel excitement when the holidays approach. Get to know your customers and their seasonality so you can understand how they’re feeling.
Seizing the opportunity with Quest Nutrition
Your customers are talking about you on social. Do you know what they’re saying? By paying attention to your brand mentions on social, you can create organic moments that aren’t possible within your own feed.
One company that understands this is Quest Nutrition, an energy bar brand. A Quest fan had recently been laid off and in his announcement post, made the admission that he’d been secretly hoarding the complimentary Quest bars from his office. The brand saw an opportunity and commented that they’d send him some more bars as a condolence and a boost in his job hunt. It was an excellent example of “surprise and delight”.
Quest got over 5,000 engagements with that comment. It begs the question of how much engagement you’re leaving on the table by simply focusing on your own posts. Instead of monitoring mentions solely for potential problems that need addressing, look for opportunities to proactively engage with your fans.
Practicing efficiency with Salesforce
By now, businesses have a set way of triaging customer issues on social media. Get the customer into the DMs and solve from there. There are major benefits to this approach from internal routing to traceability. But sometimes, the answer is sitting right in front of us.
A customer reached out to Salesforce with an issue. While the textbook response would be to move the conversation to the DMs, they directed their customer to help desk articles tailored to their problem in a reply. Not only did this move help the customer in fewer steps, it kept the conversation transparent so other customers who might be facing the same problem could troubleshoot on their own.
When you’re working toward customer centricity, it’s important to remember the burden on the customer. If something can be fixed with fewer clicks, that’s probably the right way to go.
How to become a customer-centric company on social
Feeling inspired to strengthen your customer-centric culture after seeing those examples? Us too. Here are a few ways you can prioritize customer centricity in your social strategy.
Being customer-centric means being the best choice for your customer. But you can’t measure your success unless you know what your competition is doing. Competitive intelligence is crucial for a customer-centric strategy. Keep tabs on your competitors through targeted social monitoring and listening, tracking your wins against competitors in your CRM and working with your sales team to hear what prospects are saying about them. You’ll be positioned to win in no time.
Sprout users can take advantage of Competitor Reports for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—along with a Competitive Analysis listening template—to pull these insights on a regular basis.
Never miss a message
More than three-quarters of customers expect a business to respond within 24 hours on social media. Without the right tech behind you, that’ll take some pretty fast typing. Luckily, there are tools available to help you manage your inbox without missing a message.
Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox tool aggregates every message from all of your profiles in one place. From there, you can easily triage the requests to the relevant team—whether that’s sales, customer care or marketing. You can even create canned responses for frequently asked questions or concerns. You’ll be a master of customer communications.
Get cozy with customer care
Anyone who has ever endured a support interaction knows all about the silos in the customer experience. Whether customers are having to repeat their issue to multiple team members before finding a solution or getting inconsistent answers from the companies’ inconsistent systems, they’re leaving unhappy.
Business leaders are beginning to recognize this opportunity for improvement and they’re making big plans to fix it. Over two-thirds (72%) believe that merging the teams surrounding the customer experience will increase efficiency and 62% plan to act on it.
But don’t stop at rethinking your team structure. Rethink your tech stack as well. Finding social media management systems that integrate with your customer support platforms can go a long way to eliminating concerns for both your team and your customer. Sprout Social integrates with Salesforce Service Cloud, so you can have a single view of your customer no matter where they’re contacting you.
Listen before you speak
The benefits of social data are invaluable for your business, whether you’re working in R&D or investor relations. The first step of customer centricity is understanding your customer. Sprout’s tool gives you instant access to an aggregation of your customers’ opinions and needs. Wondering if your new serving sizes are working out? Listening data will tell you faster than any survey can. Want to gauge customer reception to a new product before launch? Post about it on social and let the data roll in.
The best part of listening data is the ability to make agile decisions. Instead of waiting on survey and focus group results to decide how to pivot, you can access real-time sentiment and make the call then and there.
Becoming a customer-centric company
A customer centric strategy is a great way to encourage loyalty. By listening to your customers’ needs, understanding and empathizing with their pain points, efficiently solving their problems and going above and beyond where needed, your brand can become their forever fan favorite.
Wondering how your brand stacks up when it comes to customer centricity? Use our customer experience audit and find out how your customer experience measures up to industry benchmarks and consumer expectations.