How to make your brand customer-focused (+ examples)

Secretly, every customer wants their experience with a brand to be like the set of Cheers, where everyone knows your name. But how do you build a relationship, especially when managing multiple channels?

At Cheers, or any favorite neighborhood spot, there are so many employees and so many repeat customers to keep track of. When your business goes online, you are dealing with thousands of potential customers at any given time. Mastering a 1:1 feel, even when you’re operating 1:many, is crucial to 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 comments. In economic times like these, it’s not worth taking a chance. The key to staying in the hearts and wallets of your customers 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 of any new initiative, improvement or change you make. In practice, this means actively collecting information about your customer through surveys or social listening, analyzing that data, and proactively giving your customer what they want—or don’t yet know they want. On every team, everyone works to keep their customers happy.

This approach pays off. More than two-thirds (77%) of customers are more likely to increase their spend 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 by 2023. Another 71% are looking to revamp their customer journey this year.

77% of customers are more likely to spend more with brands they feel connected to.

As Sprout Social President Ryan Barretto said, “Customer success is new sales.” Developing relationships with your customers is a non-negotiable move.

Examples of Customer-Centric Brands on Social Media

Social media is a perfect complement to your customer-centric strategy. Whether you’re connecting with your customers to assess when something is going wrong or communicating with them about a new product or trend, social media is the perfect arena for relationship building. Here are four brands that integrate social media into their customer-centric strategy, and takeaways on how you can do it yourself.

Listening and learning with Cava

Cava, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, serves pitas and custom bowls. When they made the decision to discontinue their sweet potatoes, customers were quick to express their discontent on social media. Cava listened to its customers and brought back the popular ingredient, announcing the news with a TikTok video featuring screenshots of customers begging for the return of the root vegetable.

In this example, Cava recognized his mistake and changed accordingly, a key pillar of any customer-centric approach. But they took it a step further. Rather than relaunch sweet potatoes as an internally sourced campaign, they gave credit where credit was due and showed their customers that they had been listening to their pleas on social media.

Obviously, the Cava did not relaunch an ingredient based on a few comments. This is where social data comes into play. Social listening tools like Sprout can help you add the voice of your customer so they can make crowd-pleasing decisions and deliver the best possible product to your customers.

Engage in empathy with

Relationships, regardless of their form, are based on empathy. This also applies to brands. 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 that you care about the emotional state of thousands of people at once?

One lifestyle brand,, 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, customers of are likely to be frequent shoppers, either with them or in general. With that information, it’s not hard for a brand to decipher what their customers may be feeling during retail’s busiest season. If your clients are sales professionals, the end of a quarter can be an especially important time for them. If your customers are avid bakers, they may be excited as the holidays approach. Get to know your customers and their seasonality so you can understand how they feel.

Seizing the opportunity with Quest Nutrition

Your customers are talking about you on social media. Do you know what they are saying? By paying attention to your brand mentions on social media, you can create organic moments that aren’t possible within your own feed.

One company that understands this is Quest Nutrition, a brand of energy bars. A Quest fan had recently been fired and in his announcement post he admitted that he had been secretly stockpiling Quest bars courtesy of his office. The brand saw an opportunity and commented that they would send him a few more bars as a token of condolence and a boost in his job search. It was a prime example of “surprise and delight.”

Quest Nutrition Customer Focused Review

Quest got over 5,000 engagements with that comment. It raises the question of how much engagement you are leaving on the table by simply focusing on your own posts. Instead of monitoring mentions solely for potential issues that need to be addressed, look for opportunities to proactively engage with your fans.

Practicing Efficiency with Salesforce

By now, companies have an established way of triaging customer issues on social media. Take the client to the DMs and resolve from there. There are significant benefits to this approach, from internal routing to traceability. But sometimes, the answer is right in front of us.

A customer contacted Salesforce with an issue. While the textbook response would be to move the conversation to DMs, they directed their customer to help desk articles tailored to their issue in one response. This move not only helped the customer in fewer steps, but kept the conversation transparent so that other customers who might be facing the same issue could fix it on their own.

When working towards customer centricity, it’s important to remember the burden that falls on the customer. If something can be fixed with fewer clicks, it’s probably the right way to go.

How to become a customer-centric company on social media

Are you inspired to strengthen your customer-centric culture after seeing those examples? We also. Here are some ways you can prioritize customer support in your social strategy.

be competitive

Being customer focused means being the best fit for your customer. But you can’t measure your success unless you know what your competition is doing. Competitive intelligence is crucial to a customer-centric strategy. Stay on top of your competitors through targeted social listening and monitoring, track your wins against competitors in your CRM, and work 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 Competitor Analysis listening template, to gain 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 proper technology behind you, that’s going to require some pretty quick typing. Fortunately, there are tools available to help you manage your inbox without missing a message.

Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox tool aggregates all messages from all your profiles in one place. From there, you can easily triage requests to the appropriate team, be it sales, customer support, or marketing. You can even create canned answers for frequently asked questions or concerns. You will be a master of customer communications.

Smart Inbox product screenshot

Get comfortable with customer support

Anyone who has been through a support interaction knows all about silos in the customer experience. Whether customers have to repeat their problem to multiple team members before finding a solution or get inconsistent responses from inconsistent company systems, they leave unhappy.

Business leaders are beginning to recognize this opportunity for improvement and are making big plans to fix it. Over two-thirds (72%) believe that merging customer experience teams will increase efficiency, and 62% plan to act accordingly.

But don’t stop at rethinking your team structure. Also rethink your tech stack. Finding social media management systems that integrate with your customer support platforms can go a long way to taking the worry out of 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 contacted.

Sprout and ServiceCloud Integration

listen before you speak

The benefits of social data are invaluable to your business, whether you’re working in R&D or investor relations. The first step in customer centricity is to understand 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? Listening data will tell you faster than any survey. Do you want to measure customer reception to a new product before launch? Post it on social media and let the data roll in.

The best part of listening to data is the ability to make agile decisions. Instead of waiting for survey and focus group results to decide how to pivot, you can access real-time sentiment and make the call right there.

Becoming a customer-centric company

A customer-focused strategy is a great way to build loyalty. By listening to your customers’ needs, understanding and empathizing with their pain points, solving their problems efficiently, and going above and beyond where necessary, your brand can become a fan favorite forever.

Wondering how your brand stacks up when it comes to customer centricity? Use our customer experience audit and find out how your customer experience compares to industry benchmarks and consumer expectations.