You might hear people say that customer experience is the future of marketing-and they're not wrong. If your company makes any kind of impact on a customer, good or bad, it's highly probable they're going to share about it.

Before social media, folks would voice their experience to their inner circle of a few friends. Now customers have platforms to give their opinions to millions of other potential buyers. Not only that, high-traffic news and entertainment sites often cover extreme customer service stories found on Twitter or Reddit, increasing the visibility of a good or bad customer transaction by tens of millions of views.

Social media plays a huge role in the customer experience because of its ability to foster an ongoing relationship with customers. When done correctly, it can develop a certain trust and loyalty among customers - more efficiently than any other avenue of marketing.

A recent study by Expert Market found that 61 percent of consumers report that social media impacts their buying decisions. The study points out that Facebook is the number one social media site potential customers research, with Pinterest as a close second. Oddly enough only 14 percent of companies polled reported that social media has proven value, but 29 percent agreed that it had some value.

In my personal experience, those who have a negative view of social media are usually missing these two crucial points:

  1. Social media can also be used to gain valuable insights into your customers. People are brutally honest about their likes and dislikes-particularly if they're sharing with their friends. Try utilizing tools like Brandwatch to see what your customers are saying about you (and your competitors!). This can be invaluable to making improvements to your business.
  2. Many businesses constantly make the mistake of only posting about company news via social media. That's not only boring, it develops a very one-sided relationship, which most consumers will not respond to. This year, come up with an interesting content strategy that makes your followers want to read for entertainment purposes. Keep it to subjects that fall in line with your business and ignite a conversation. Showing your followers that you care about what they have to say (very generally) cultivates brand loyalty.

When you wisely and authentically invest in your customers, it not only pays off-it has a ripple effect. As the New Year approaches and our minds start turning towards new avenues of increasing business, think about creative ways you might use social media to elevate your customer experience in 2016.

Published on: Nov 19, 2015