Customer experience (CX) has become a buzzword in the advertising and marketing world, and before really delving into what it is, some may assume that CX is simply the responsibility of a company’s sales team or customer service team. In reality, every single department has a role to play in your brand’s CX. In this article, we’ll discuss the ways that public relations and social media contribute to a brand’s customer experience.
What is CX and why is it important?
First, we need to truly understand what CX is. Customer experience encompasses every interaction a consumer has with your brand—from being greeted in-person at your brick-and-mortar store, to completing a purchase on your ecommerce mobile app, to how quickly a complaint is resolved via a customer care phone line, to the email marketing communications received in a customer’s inbox. The sum of all these interactions is CX, which shapes the overall perception of your brand.
CX has become increasingly important because consumers have come to expect not only an outstanding product or service, but an exceptional, personalized and consistent experience with your brand from start to finish, and across digital and physical channels.
Your CX will set you apart from your competitors when your quality or price point can’t, and good CX will turn first time customers into repeat purchasers and brand loyalists. When you make CX a priority, it becomes a true differentiator, and that means that every single customer touchpoint matters.
Touchpoints in the customer journey
Public relations and social media are key touchpoints on the customer journey. In fact, often times, PR or social may be the very first interaction a customer has with your brand—building subconscious awareness before the customer has even identified a need for your product. Perhaps they read an online article that your product was featured in, or their favorite influencer reviewed it on their YouTube channel, or maybe they were served a promoted post from your brand on Instagram. All of these touchpoints are how a customer discovered your brand in the first place, making them incredibly valuable to the customer journey.
After this initial interaction, and even after the initial purchase, there are countless opportunities to utilize PR and social media throughout the customer lifecycle. Once a customer hits that ‘follow’ button on your social media pages, you can stay connected with them through regular posting and replying to comments and direct messages. Long-term influencer partnerships will regularly get your product in front of current (and potential) customers. With a steady stream of PR coverage, you can ensure your brand stays relevant and top-of-mind. Public relations and social media are key channels for communicating with customers, and each of these individual touchpoints will make an impact on your overall CX.
Mitigate negative CX
If a customer has a poor experience with your brand, it’s not uncommon for them to take to social media to air their grievances. Just one complaint can quickly gain steam and turn into a public relations crisis if not dealt with swiftly and appropriately. If your company’s response to this complaint misses the mark, it could make matters even worse, causing major damage to your brand reputation.
To avoid this, it is crucial that your PR and social media teams are informed of and on board with the overall CX strategy. Utilize social listening to intercept the complaint before it goes viral. Collaborate with the PR team on the best way to respond with authentic messaging that parallels the expected customer experience. Own up to the mistake if you made one, and vow to make it right. Quickly responding to negative reviews and customer inquiries before they escalate is essential. Usually, an upset customer just wants to be heard and acknowledged.
Amplify positive CX
On the other hand, when a customer has a positive experience with your brand, they could sing your praises on social media, which could also gain traction online. If you really went above and beyond in your interaction, it could even generate positive PR coverage. If the customer who had the outstanding experience was an influencer, they’ve now become a brand advocate to their followers, which is extremely valuable.
Your social media team should share these success stories with the PR team so they can capitalize on it by pitching it to the media (if it is a big enough story or tied into the current news cycle) or by utilizing the feel-good narrative in owned channels. As word gets out about the positive interaction, it will strengthen your brand image in the marketplace. Hearing about it could even serve as a consumer’s introduction to your brand, beginning their customer journey on the right foot.
You could also utilize social media to look for organic opportunities to create these positive experiences. For example, a customer could post that they’re having a bad day and could really use some pizza from the restaurant you run. With real-time social listening, you could respond and offer them a free slice. The customer will feel a genuine connection with your brand, and others will see this interaction and think of your brand in a positive light.
Keep a pulse on CX efforts to ensure alignment
What your brand says publicly via social media channels and through public relations efforts sets the expectation for what consumers will experience when doing business with you. Does your product or service live up to the hype? Or is there a disconnect?
Utilize social media to evaluate your CX efforts. Listen to your customer’s feedback to learn which areas on the customer journey you need to improve, and to gauge which areas are your strengths. What’s working? What isn’t? Are they frustrated with your app? Are they loving your new packaging? You should be striving to constantly fine-tune your product and marketing touchpoints to ensure your outward communications matches your actual CX.
Public relations and social media go hand-in-hand with CX. PR and social touchpoints influence potential and current customers’ experiences with your brand. Furthermore, a customer’s positive or negative experience with your brand can impact your PR and social communications. Ensure your teams are integrated across departments, so you can utilize the power of these important marketing tools to strengthen your CX and ultimately deliver on your brand promises.