Customer experience management in the age of social media

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Customer experience management starts with an understanding of a customer's perception of their interactions with an organization. With the proliferation of social media, creating a program to effectively manage the customer experience is more complex than ever.  Customers have a lot of choices on whether, how and where they interact with your organization and how they get information about products and services.  How you respond to these choices determines the customer experience, which in turn defines brand experience and brand equity.   

As you do not overtly control the message at each social media touch point, this may appear threatening and seem to undermine the experience you've designed.  However, listening to what is being said about your company can be very edifying. Customers that say good things about a company carry tremendous credibility with other potential customers. Using insight you get from listening to your customers helps you stay relevant to them. Social media networks can be considered large, natural (if somewhat biased toward specific segments of customers) focus groups, to help you understand and be able to address customer expectations and needs.  In fact, information gleaned from social media sites can provide insight on customers' perceptions of your organization and brand, and the effectiveness of customers' experience at each point of interaction.

Many companies are in the process of adding social networking capabilities to their marketing mix.  There are as many different ways of approaching this as there are types of social media.  How you choose to integrate social media depends on your company, your brand but, most of all, your customers. Recognize that social media applications are still evolving and will continue to change over time, as will the expectations of your customers. 
 
As you integrate social media into your overall customer experience strategy, do not lose sight of the importance of existing customer interactions.  Your social media approach should reinforce your brand promise and complement your primary points of interaction. Develop programs that allow you to listen, learn and engage the right customers in ways that provide value to your customers and to your organization, across all points of engagement.
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