Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report 2019 – Customer expectations has hit an all-time high! With over 25 years since the popularization of the Internet and 12 years after the introduction of iPhone, customer expectations keep soaring. And leading global brands are competing to deliver superior customer experiences to win the digital game. Here’s a glimpse into some of the Fortune 500 brands that have leveraged technologies to transform Customer Experiences.
Starbucks’ Mobile Order and Pay lets customers place an order and pay ahead on the Starbucks app, which means customers can walk in without waiting in line, and ask a barista for their freshly made order at the pickup area. Recently, the coffee giant also extended this facility to all its customers, an exclusive feature that was previously available only for its Rewards and Loyalty program members. Walmart introduced technologies like Check Out With Me to give customers a faster checkout experience, Digital Store Maps on the Walmart app to help customers find everything they need quickly among many others.
Neiman Marcus’ AI-enabled Memory Mirror transforms shopping experiences by enabling shoppers to virtually try on new outfits and take videos and stills of what they try on for comparison. A similar technology was used by L’Oréal to launch Modiface, a virtual makeup try-on functionality that lets users virtually try on lipsticks using their phone or computer cameras. Leading global brands focus on customer experience above all to gain the competitive advantage and differentiate themselves from competitors. In fact the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report indicates that a staggering 73% of customers say that an extraordinary experience with one company raises their expectations of others.
So, what does customer engagement really mean for businesses today? Salesforce has been conducting an annual survey to discover the shifting customer trends. And for the third edition of the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report, Salesforce Research surveyed over 8,000 customers (including consumers and business buyers across three generations of customers – Gen Zers, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers) worldwide to discover how customer expectations continue to shift, the emerging technologies that are transforming the standards of engagement, the role of trust in customer relationships and the rising importance of corporate values in buying decisions. And these are the key customer engagement trends that emerged from the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report.
Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report 2019 – Customer Engagement Trend 1 – Extraordinary Experiences Raise the Bar for Customer Engagement
One-size-fits-all customer engagement approach does not cut it anymore. 52% of companies say that companies are generally impersonal and 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Next-gen customers including consumers and business buyers expect personalized and contextualized engagement across multiple touchpoints, and disruptive business models are further raising the bar for customer experience. However, the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report indicates that companies, in general, don’t meet the standards of customer expectations.
Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report – Expectation Vs Reality
73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations whereas, in reality, only 51% of customers say companies generally understand their needs and expectations. Likewise, 62% of customers expect companies to adapt based on their actions and behavior, whereas only 47% of customers say companies generally adapt based on their actions and behavior.
Customer Engagement Trend 2 – New Expectations Change the Digital Transformation Playbook
67% of customers expect companies to provide new products and services more frequently than before — up from 63% in 2018
Customers especially business buyers are more open to next-gen technologies to improve their brand experiences. According to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report, Fifty-eight percent of customers say emerging technologies are changing their expectations of companies and a whopping 75% of customers expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences.
Among the key technologies, Artificial Intelligence is being received well by business buyers. Customers use AI whenever they do things as common as buying a recommended item on Amazon, using Waze to shorten their commute, or discovering a new favorite song on Spotify.
One of the most common use cases of AI in everyday life is Voice technology. AI-powered Voice assistants are increasingly adopted by businesses to enhance customer experiences, drive down costs and improve overall efficiencies of customer service. 23% of Customer Service organizations are already using Chatbots most often in voice form and an additional 31% plan to within 18 months.
Twenty-Seven percent of customers use Voice Assistants like Siri and Alexa everyday on iPhones or smart speakers. And the impact of voice technology isn’t limited to customer engagement. Fifty-one percent of the workforce believes that voice assistants will transform how they work, and 38% report that they already use one during their workday.
Customer Engagement Trend 3 – Trust Becomes More Important, Yet More Elusive
Eighty-nine percent of customers are more loyal to companies they trust, and 65% have stopped buying from companies that did something they consider distrustful
Trust is one of the key decision-making factors inextricably tied to a company’s bottom-line. And with the recent revelations of data misuse and questionable business practices by companies that compromised the personal information of millions of people around the world, Trust has become even more relevant than before. As per the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report, 73% of customers say trust in companies matter more than it did a year ago. Now, customers are even more selective than they once were in which brands they trust. Fifty-four percent of customers say it’s harder than ever for a company to earn their trust.
Companies that are more transparent about how their data is – and isn’t used gain customer trust over the others. And the fact that nearly half of customers have abandoned companies over data and privacy concerns along with laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes it increasingly important for companies to genuinely earn the trust of their customers.
Customer Engagement Trend 4 – Corporate Values Sway Buying Decisions
Consumers reward a company they believe is ethical and refrain from brands they perceive to be unethical. 73% of customers say a company’s ethics matter more than they did a year ago. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology and ethics are not two individual water-tight compartments – customers recognize how emerging technologies like AI are used rather than the technologies themselves will influence the trajectory of society.
The Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report 2019 indicates that some of the key concerns with respect to ethics of technology are – distribution of benefits among all people, Company’s stance on equal rights (71% of customers expect companies to clearly state their position on equal rights,) giving back to the community (76% percent of customers think companies are responsible for giving back to the communities where they do business,) preparing existing and future workforces for new careers as technology evolves, and more.
Get more insights on the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report 2019, here.
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Source: Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report 2019