Customer experience (CX) is all about how your customers perceive their interactions with your brand. A positive CX can turn casual browsers into loyal customers, while a negative one can send them straight to your competitors.
Now, enter social media — your secret weapon. It’s more than just likes and shares. With billions of users worldwide, it’s an invaluable channel for real-time interaction, customer care, feedback and engagement.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to build a winning customer experience strategy. You’ll also find actionable tips on harnessing the power of social to shape these experiences.
Let’s get started.
Table of contents
- What is customer experience (CX) strategy?
- How to build your customer experience strategy
- 5 best practices to improve your customer experience strategy
- Why is social so important for any customer experience strategy
What is customer experience (CX) strategy?
A customer experience (CX) strategy is your blueprint for delivering positive and memorable customer experiences. It’s a long-term, data-driven plan for shaping every interaction your customer has with your business — from the first click to the final purchase, and beyond.
A great CX strategy aims to exceed customer expectations at every touchpoint. This helps create loyal customers who not only repeatedly choose your products but also rave about your brand to their friends and family.
And that’s not all. Time and again, customer experience research has shown that superior CX can drive high retention, Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), revenue and growth for your business.
Quick, convenient service contributes to a positive customer experience (CX), but 80% of consumers also expect businesses on social to interact with their customers in more meaningful ways. Through social messaging, brands have an opportunity to meet those rising expectations, but marketing departments can’t do it alone. Companies that build a coordinated approach to social messaging stand to transform their customer experience in a way that increases loyalty and drives revenue.
How to build your customer experience strategy
In this section, we’ll walk you through the key steps and methodologies for developing a winning customer experience strategy.
Get to know your customers and audience
In 2022, jewelry brand Signet saw a 50% growth in sales — including a 27% increase in online sales — by improving their customer experience. A key part of their CX strategy was to find out what their customers are looking for when buying jewelry.
To offer memorable, personalized customer experiences, you need to understand the very people you’re serving: your customers.
Start by looking at demographics like age, gender, location and income level to get a baseline understanding of your buyers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You also need to delve into their pain points, motivations and habits.
Next, segment your customers into different groups based on shared characteristics. If you’re a SaaS tool, you might have a group of young, tech-savvy professionals who value efficiency, and a group of older, less tech-savvy professionals who value simplicity and ease of use.
Now, build personas — representations of your ideal customers within each segment. Personas make it easier to visualize and empathize with your customers.
For example, “Efficient Emma” might represent the young, tech-savvy professionals who use your software to improve their work efficiency.
Actively listen to and act on feedback
Feedback (both positive and negative) is a goldmine of actionable insights. It lets you know what’s working and what’s not. It also helps you understand your customers better — their needs, expectations and experiences with your brand.
Listening to what customers have to say about your brand can steer your business in the right direction. It can help you fix issues, improve existing products and services, and even develop new ones that are likely to be successful.
More importantly, listening shows customers you value their opinions. It helps you build an emotional connection with them that leads to loyalty and unforgettable experiences.
So, listen actively. Use surveys, interviews and focus groups to collect feedback. Leverage social media listening tools to keep tabs on what customers are saying about your brand online.
Then, act on the feedback. Respond to negative reviews by apologizing and solving problems as quickly as possible. Thank happy customers who leave positive reviews to make them feel appreciated.
Don’t forget to work with Sales and Customer Support. These teams talk to your customers everyday and are more in tune with their needs, preferences and complaints. Make sure you have a system to record and categorize any feedback so you can address it timely.
Track the right customer experience (CX) metrics
Metrics give you hard data on how well your customer experience strategy is working.
Without these metrics, you have no way of accurately knowing about your current strategy’s performance, where you could improve and whether you need to pivot.
Below are some customer experience metrics to keep an eye on:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This score measures customer loyalty and satisfaction by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your business, product or service to a friend or colleague on a scale of 0-10.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This metric gauges customer satisfaction with a product, service or interaction by asking them to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-5.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): This assesses the ease of use of your product or service by asking customers to rate the effort needed to achieve their goal.
- Churn Rate: This is the percentage of customers who stop doing business with you over a given period of time.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This metric calculates the total revenue a business can expect from a single customer account.
- First Contact Resolution (FCR): This measures the percentage of customer queries resolved in the first interaction, reflecting customer service efficiency.
- Average Resolution Time: This is the average time it takes to resolve a customer’s issue.
- Social Media Engagement: Metrics like likes, shares, comments and retweets can provide insight into how well your brand is connecting with customers online.
So, which metrics should you track? This will depend on the goals of your customer experience strategy. You need to define what a successful customer experience looks like for your business, and then identify the metrics that will measure that success.
For example, if customer loyalty is important, NPS might be a good metric to track. Once you have your metrics identified, set up a system for regularly collecting and analyzing this data. Make use of analytics tools to automate this process and gain deeper insights.
Map out your customer experience journey
A customer experience journey map is a visual representation of every interaction your customers have with your business.
Here’s an example of Spotify’s customer journey map:
Mapping out the customer journey helps you understand the customer experience from their perspective. It allows you to identify pain points, moments of friction and opportunities for improvement.
We recommend creating a separate journey map for each customer persona. Here are the key elements to add for each customer experience journey map you create:
- Journey Stage: Break down the customer’s interaction with your company into distinct stages like awareness, consideration, purchase, use and loyalty. Remember, these stages may vary based on the nature of your business.
- Touchpoints: Identify every point of interaction between the customer and your company across each stage of the journey. Include the different channels where each touchpoint happens, such as your website, physical store, email or social media.
- Goals: At each stage of the journey, what is the customer trying to achieve? What are their needs and desires?
- Emotions: How does the customer feel at each touchpoint? Understanding their emotions and thoughts can help you improve the overall customer experience.
- Pain Points: Identify any obstacles or frustrations that customers might experience at different stages. This helps you understand where you can fix issues or improve.
Once the map is complete, use it to identify opportunities for improvement or innovation to enhance the customer experience at each stage.
This leads us to the next point — developing an implementation plan.
Develop an action plan to implement your strategy
An action plan transforms your strategy from a conceptual framework into tangible actions. It provides a clear path for your team to follow and establishes accountability. It also includes the KPIs and metrics you’ll track to measure the performance of your strategy.
Start by defining your CX goals. Then, for each goal, list out the specific actions that will help you achieve it. Assign responsibility for each action to a team member or department. Make sure each action has a deadline to keep people on track and create a sense of urgency.
For example, let’s say a retail business sets a goal to reduce customer support response times. Their action plan might include actions like investing in a new customer service platform, training staff on its use and setting up an alert system for unanswered queries.
Once your plan is complete, communicate it to your entire organization and track your progress regularly. Remember to be flexible — adjust the plan as necessary based on customer feedback and results.
5 best practices to improve your customer experience strategy
Want to take your customer experience strategy to the next level? Here are five expert tips and best practices to help you improve the impact of your CX strategy.
1. Create a customer-centric culture
Delivering amazing customer experiences is not just a task for your customer support team. It requires the entire organization to be on the same page — in other words, it needs to be ingrained in your company culture.
A customer-centric culture involves putting customers at the heart of every decision and consistently striving to exceed their expectations. It requires a shared understanding and commitment at all levels, from top executives down to frontline employees.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Studies show customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to those that aren’t focused on the customer.
So, how do you create a customer-centric culture?
For starters, create and enforce clear customer service policies. Make it a practice to collect and act on customer feedback across all departments. Recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond to exceed customer expectations.
Finally, implement performance metrics that focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty. This shifts the focus from purely financial outcomes to customer-oriented results.
Remember — the initiative must start at the top. Leaders should set the tone by demonstrating a customer-centric mindset and behavior. This involves making customer-centric decisions and rewarding employees who do the same.
2. Empower your employees
Improving customer experiences is a skill. Equip your team with the knowledge and tools they need to build stronger customer relationships and offer exceptional customer service.
Organize training programs, seminars or workshops that help employees understand your customers and how to serve them better. Empower them to make decisions that benefit the customer, even if it means bending some rules.
Remember to go beyond customer-facing roles. Educate all departments on how they can contribute towards improving overall customer experience.
For instance, product development teams can incorporate user feedback into product improvements and feature releases, while marketing teams can use customer insights to craft more relevant messaging.
3. Practice social listening
Social listening can help you keep track of the overall consumer sentiment around your brand, identify issues as soon as or even before they arise, address feedback instantly and learn about customer preferences, expectations and evolving demands.
You can also use social listening to analyze your competitors and their interactions with your target audience. Learn from their mistakes (and wins) to shape your own CX strategy.
Sprout Social’s Listening can help you monitor online conversations about your brand, industry and related topics. Sprout’s AI-driven technology sifts through millions of data points to bring you personalized trends, insights and key learnings about your audience.
Use these insights to analyze audience preferences, respond promptly to customer feedback, tailor your products and services, and enhance overall customer experience.
4. Leverage technology
Embracing technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can be a game-changer in boosting customer experiences.
Ever been on a website that remembers your name or preferences? That’s AI personalization at work. By studying customer behavior and preferences, AI can create tailored experiences that make customers feel understood and valued.
AI systems can also analyze huge volumes of customer data, identifying trends and highlighting areas for improvement. This can help you adapt your customer experience strategy so it’s more targeted and effective.
Fun fact: Sprout’s Listening tool uses AI to quickly identify brand mentions, trends, influencers and more.
Then there’s automation, which can help you streamline operations. For example, you could set up automated email responses acknowledging a customer query or install customer service chatbots to assist customers after office hours.
5. Offer omnichannel support
Omnichannel support is about providing a seamless and consistent experience to customers across all touchpoints. It means the customer can interact with the brand through various channels — be it social media, email or phone — and receive the same level of service.
Providing omnichannel support is not just ideal — it’s a necessity. A study by CMO Council revealed as many as 85% of consumers prefer interacting with brands through a mix of digital and physical channels.
Not only that, the average customer interacts with a brand through 20 different channels, and expects a consistent experience across all.
Why is social so important for any customer experience strategy?
Social media is the global watering hole where customers gather, engage and voice their opinions. For brands, it’s an opportunity to listen, connect, solve issues and more.
In other words, social media is a customer experience powerhouse.
Not sure exactly how social media ties into CX? Here’s how utilizing platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can elevate your customer experience strategy:
Social media enables excellent customer experience at scale
Social media platforms, with their billions of active users, offer businesses a huge opportunity to deliver great customer experiences on a massive scale. It’s like having a worldwide stage where your brand can perform — and the audience is your customers.
But it’s not just about the numbers. Social media allows you to engage with customers directly, in real-time and in a personal way. You can answer questions, respond to complaints and receive feedback instantly.
And with 69% of consumers expecting brands to respond to their queries within 24 hours, this proactive engagement goes a long way in making customers feel valued and heard.
Moreover, social media can provide valuable insights into customer behaviors, preferences and pain points. By analyzing their interactions and feedback, you can refine your CX strategy and make it more customer-centric.
Provide one-on-one customer support
It can’t be stressed enough: how you care for your customers distinguishes you from your competitors.
Social messaging is an accessible, direct line to your brand that consumers will use to sort out order inquiries, billing issues, product questions, quality concerns and more. In a one-on-one conversation, your brand representatives can focus specifically on the needs of that customer in the moment. Plus, it’s an opportunity to humanize your brand, remind customers that there’s a person behind the screen and create personal connections. Providing this experience is almost second to none in a CX strategy.
Redirect public questions and complaints
Often customers will start a conversation with your brand by leaving a public comment on your post or tagging your brand with an @mention. When those interactions involve a customer service request, sensitive subject or other issues that would be better handled privately, it’s best to transition the conversation to social messaging.
Hiya, I'll be happy to help with this. I've just dropped you a follow, can you send us a DM with your order number and billing address? Thanks, Tom
— TK Maxx (@TKMaxxHelp) May 5, 2021
In a private conversion, customers will feel more comfortable sharing identifiable details like order confirmation numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. This also creates a safer space for consumers to share candid, but valuable, feedback.
Practice proactive customer service outreach
Gartner predicts that by 2025, outbound customer engagement interactions will outnumber inbound.
By combining rich customer and social data, businesses can identify opportunities to proactively support customers through messaging platforms. When done effectively, this will minimize customer effort, reduce service tickets and demonstrate that your brand is attuned to your customers’ needs.
Keep in mind that when a business sends an outbound message—whether that’s an ad or something more transactional like a receipt—the customer can respond in the same conversation thread about anything at any time.
Tools like Sprout Social and Zendesk, which sync message history and customer data, will help ensure that your team isn’t caught off guard and has the context to engage with individual consumers in consistently meaningful ways.
Simplify your message workflows
Quickly and efficiently responding to inbound messages is what makes great customer care. With a social customer care tool like Sprout, businesses can resolve all customer inquiries timely and ensure messages are handled by the right teams.
Within the Sprout platform, two must-have processes include tagging and tasking all inbound messages. Using Tags, whichever team is monitoring the inbox is able to label and sort messages by specific categories like:
- Sales lead
- Feature requests
- Crisis or incident response
- Technical issue
- User-generated content
Not only does Tagging help team members classify the types of messages they receive, it makes it easy for anyone to segment and filter content. A message with the UGC tag, for instance, can quickly be surfaced when social content is needed for a marketing campaign, while feature request tags can be shared with the product team as research.
Tags also empower teams to prioritize incident messages by severity level, ensuring those that need a timely response don’t accidentally slip through the cracks.
Equally valuable is assigning messages to specific individuals based on the content and response type needed. Tasking ensures those who are best equipped to effectively respond to a customer query are on the case.
For example, messages that fall under the category of ‘technical issue’ should be resolved by someone on the support team, not a sales or success team member. In the Sprout platform, you can Task specific messages to another team member with the Task type and severity level.
You can also document every workflow and each team’s responsibility. After creating your naming conventions and task workflows, make sure to record the different labels and next steps in a place where anyone can refer back to.
This can come in handy at different times. For example, if your overnight crew takes over the brand inbox and a sales lead comes in overnight, tasking that message to a sales team member ensures no potential leads are left behind.
And if a social media crisis develops over the weekend, tagging messages with the ‘incident’ label and identifying priority level can help senior team members quickly and effectively address the situation.
Elevate your customer experience strategy
Ready to improve your brand’s customer experience strategy? Use this customer experience audit template to create a customer journey map that analyzes your CX performance from awareness through post-purchase.
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