State of the Connected Customer in 2018

Today’s culture is forged by constant connections — mobile access to everything imaginable, the instant we need it. The result is that customers are supremely empowered with more information and choice than ever before, making it an even greater endeavor to sustain loyalty. Customers increasingly choose to engage with brands across various digital channels that can deliver smarter, connected, personalized, and seamless experiences. Transforming the customer experience is at the heart of this digital transformation.

In this hyper-connected state, customers continually judge each company’s interactions to find the smartest. These changes are creating an intelligence imperative both for companies serving consumers and those serving entire organizations. It’s no longer enough for customer experiences to be simple and fast. Increasingly, customers expect every touch point to be personalized and proactive. These demands are breeding new business models and upending industries, prompting CEOs to consider the seemingly infinite influences on the marketplace.

Understanding the need and importance of a happy customer, Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, has published their second edition of “State of the Connected Customer” report, surveyed over 6,723 consumers and business buyers in Australia/New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Nordics, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States to discover:

  • How customers’ expectations of companies are changing
  • Which emerging technologies are influencing the future of customer experience
  • Why customer trust is increasingly important and how companies can foster it

Some of the key essentials in today’s customer-centric business are as follows:

Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs – With more choice, more access to information, and less incentive to be loyal, today’s customers are firmly in control of their relationships with companies. Consumers and business buyers alike seek differentiated experiences based on trust and understanding and will shop around to find them.

Companies Face a New Connected Mandate – From product recommendations to proactive service, customers expect engagement that’s uniquely personalized. What’s more, customers are looking for interactions that are connected and Contextualized at every turn.

Technology Sets New Benchmarks for Innovation – As technology evolves at a head-spinning pace, customers have been conditioned to expect newer and better experiences. Customers are far more likely to view various emerging technologies as revolutionary, rather than hype, with artificial intelligence (AI) playing an increasingly prominent role in their daily lives.

Customers Balance Personalization and Privacy Amid a Crisis of Trust – Delivering personalized experiences requires a data-driven, 360-degree view — but more than half of respondents are uncomfortable with how their data is used. Customers say companies can earn their trust by taking certain steps, such as giving them control over how their data is applied and being transparent with how it’s used.

Key India highlights from the report are as below:

Customer Standards Hit All-Time Highs –

  • 87% of all customers say their standard for good customer experiences is higher than ever
  • 92% of all customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products/services
  • 88% of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves

Customers Dictate the Experiences They Want

  • 86% of all customers say it’s very important for companies to treat them as a person, not a number, to win their business
  • 13 channels are used on average, by business buyers A Data-Value Exchange Rises as Customer Trust Falls to communicate with companies
  • 12 channels are used on average, by consumers to communicate with companies

Customers Set New Benchmarks for Innovation

  • 71% of all customers say AI is already or actively transforming their expectations of companies
  • 74% of business buyers say AI is already or actively transforming their expectations of companies
  • 69% of consumers say AI is already or actively transforming their expectations of companies

 Top Actions That Increase Customer Trust

  • Having a strong privacy policy
  • Showing a commitment to protecting my information
  • Giving me control over what information is collected about me
  • Giving me control over what information is collected about me
  • Being transparent about how my information is used

Therefore, today businesses are focusing more than ever on going beyond the expected product or service, to deliver a customer experience that truly differentiates. But while expectations for personalized, connected experiences are soaring, trust in companies to responsibly handle the data they require is bottoming out. Hence it is imperative for companies to meet current standards, service must be quick, readily available anywhere, and even proactive. Thus, the report rightly examines the evolution of these expectations, the technology that’s driving them, and the balance of trust between customers and companies.

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