When you think of customer service, the first thing that comes to mind is usually a support call center or that poor associate behind the service desk at your local grocery store trying to explain why they can’t return that rancid package of meat that sat in someone’s trunk for about a month. While this traditional view of customer service isn’t inherently wrong and is definitely a necessity in today’s day in age, it’s only the bare minimum for what customer service has to offer. With technology and smart devices being so prevalent, companies need to stop focusing on customer service, and looking at how to turn it into customer experience.

Many companies are turning to social media websites like Facebook and Twitter for a variety of reasons. Having a dedicated individual or team to monitor a company’s social media accounts can help in a variety of ways. If you plan on using social media for marketing purposes, having someone who is passionate about your company along with a strategic marketing plan can work wonders for your company. Regularly posting on social media accounts can help humanize your company by giving it personality. Many companies and even local government organizations like police and fire departments are using social media to provide a little lighthearted teasing amongst rivals and competition. If going for this sassy approach, just be careful, as there’s a fine line between playful sarcasm and being offensive and crossing that line can be devastating.

Social media also has the added benefit of providing a real time look at customer viewpoints and satisfaction. With the use of hashtags and the ability to tag your company, if someone has a poor customer experience, your support team can reach out to them directly through social media in response to their posts to try to rectify the situation and make things right before that initial anger settles in and turns into resentment, and more than likely a lost customer. Social media lets you head these issues off at the pass before they grow too out of hand.

While focusing on the customer is the most obvious way of improving your customer experience, there’s another way that many companies tend to overlook. Creating an employee-centric culture that focuses on providing your associates with a rewarding and enriching work experience will almost guarantee a greater customer experience. We’ve all been in a situation where the employee helping us was miserable, and obviously didn’t want to be working. Their performance suffered, maybe they were less than helpful, or just passed you off to another associate. Providing employees with a positive and enriching work environment not only promotes better mental health among your employees, it helps them to better enjoy the work that they do. With this newfound passion for their job, they are inspired to excel rather than just do the bare minimum, and the service they provide, along with your customer experience, gets better thanks to your employee’s improved performance.

Transcending customer service and providing an exceptional customer experience is the key to grooming and cultivating a loyal customer following. Integrating digital and social media into a calculated marketing and customer retention plan is the best way to achieve these goals, creating a unique and identifiable personality for your company in the process.