Thought Leadership

Customer Experience is Public Relations

What is the role of PR in a CX world?

By: Brian Snyder, Executive Digital Director

Every experience with a brand shapes customers’ perceptions of it: from products and services to retail and ecommerce, and from content and advertising to what reviewers, friends, influencers and the media say. At a time when global competitors can’t win on pricing and product quality alone, it’s no secret more and more business leaders look to differentiate with better customer experiences.

Social media has become ground zero for customer experience – the good and the bad. It offers every customer a megaphone, exposing any gaps between what companies say and what they actually do. Does your advertising tout award-winning customer service? Your customers will let you know if your care agents are rude. How about your promise of free and speedy shipping? Your customers will remind you if you’re late. The next-generation artificial intelligence in your mobile app? Your customers will tell you if it’s more dumb than smart. And your commitment to quality? If even one product doesn’t meet expectations, you’ll likely spot it first online.

Brand reputations are built and sales decisions are increasingly made on the basis of customer experience. And a growing number of these experiences happen in social media, where companies are winning and losing customers with every 1:1 interaction. Social care is becoming more commonplace, yet many companies still manage it like the call centers of old, focusing solely on minimizing cost through efficiency while ignoring the perils of the resulting poor customer experience. At a time when an errant response to a customer’s social post can spread virally and severly harm brand reputation,  marketers need to look at social customer care as the front line in the war for customers’ hearts and minds.

Some companies are becoming CX standouts by adopting the mindset that Customer Experience is Public Relations. After all, earning attention, advocacy and action are mainstays of PR, and when infused into CX workstreams like social customer care and engagement, it delights customers in a way that drives loyalty, advocacy, sales and reputation.

Other brands are coming to this realization slowly and painfully, through an issue that emerged first in social media but blew up into a crisis before they became aware of it, or a poor choice of words by a social media customer service agent that landed the company on the front page of national news and got it trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Brands integrating Customer Experience with Public Relations are not only avoiding missteps, but they’re amplifying heartwarming customer stories into the kind of brand-building moments that can’t be bought.

We built our new offering, CXPR, to help brands harness the power of Progressive Public Relations to differentiate through Customer Experience. At a time when social media drives radical transparency, we help our clients earn attention, action and sales. We engage customers, influencers and media. We proactively identify and mitigate issues before they become crises. And we mine social listening and engagement data to produce actionable insights that inform business decisions – and not only in marketing and communications but in operations. Progressive PR makes the difference in the CX world’s competition for customer loyalty, advocacy and dollars.

Brian Snyder