When I was originally asked to write this piece, I was asked to write about the Customer Life Cycle Experience -- how great customer service and ongoing experience continues the customer journey. However, I wanted to take a different angle. One that I think better reflects the new normal in the market: How does a customer experience the Customer Experience Life Cycle?

Social has shifted the control from the business to the consumer -- note, I’m using consumer loosely to mean anyone: buyers, partners, employees and so on. Basically, anyone that needs to make a series of decisions or gather information related to buying a product or service.

Secondly, and equally important, I believe that consumers no longer see their transaction as a single interaction with the brand, but rather as a series of interactions -- another reason why I’m a fan of the term "life cycle."

Social Channels are Very Important

As a consumer, I expect to use social (from social media to social tools) as a big part of my decision making process: social enables me to take less risk in the choices and decisions I make, as I can learn from those who have gone before me. Social allows me to see how I will be treated as a future customer. And finally, social gives me some sense of the type of support I can expect to get.

I expect the businesses that I interact with to offer social channels. From my personal perspective, I don’t necessarily care if a business is on Facebook -- as that isn't where I want to interact -- but I do want that company to be on Twitter. I also want to have a place where I can interact on a more personal level with that brand.

While this goes a bit against the conventional wisdom of "all brands must have a presence on Facebook" -- I prefer to use Facebook to connect with other people like me who are passionate about an activity that the brand affects.

For example, I’m buying new running shoes. I’ll look for the brand on Twitter, I’ll read reviews on Zappos and Amazon, and I may even visit the brand’s website to ask product specific questions -- hopefully they have a community.

However, on Facebook I want to interact with other people that have experience with the brand, not the brand itself (e.g. a local triathlon group talking about their experiences). And it is from this collective set of interactions that I’ll form a buying decision.