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With unprecedented access to technology, data, and choices, consumers are in control like never before, according to a new report released from Salesforce Research.

Out today, the “State of the Connected Customer” report surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and business buyers to understand how the connected world is creating a smarter, more empowered customer. As ubiquitous mobile devices and permanent connections to social platforms allow customers to control their own buying journeys, innovation has become the status quo. Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed agree that it’s very important for the companies they buy from to be innovative. But innovation alone is not enough. Companies need to lean into intelligence, analytics, and other technologies to create more personalized customer experiences — because their customers' loyalty depends on it.

In fact, if customers don’t feel valued or understood by a company, it only takes a click of a button to find another brand and revoke their loyalty. Today, marketplace success is not only defined by a company’s ability to cater to customer needs, but also to intelligently predict and fulfill those needs before the customer even asks. Half of consumers say they are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.

Here are a few key findings about the connected customer:

  • Seventy percent of consumers agree that technology has made it easier than ever to take their business elsewhere. Click to tweet

  • Eighty-three percent of business buyers say that tech has kept their company more informed about product choices than ever before. Click to tweet

  • Sixty-six percent of consumers say they are likely to switch brands if they are treated like a number instead of an individual. Click to tweet

  • Seventy-nine percent of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to have a sales rep that serves as a trusted advisor. Click to tweet

  • By 2020, 79% of millennial consumers expect smart/connected home technology will have an impact on their personal lives.  Click to tweet

  • By 2020, 75% of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions. Click to tweet

What do these findings mean for businesses? In short, the connected customers’ expectations have created an intelligence imperative. Here are a few top ways businesses can pivot their strategies to rise to the the challenge:

  • Leverage changing attitudes towards customer data to deliver personalized marketing: 57% of consumers agree they’re willing to share data with companies that send personalized offers and discounts. Click to tweet

  • Focus on relationships rather than the sales pitch: More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to work with a salesperson who focuses on achieving customer needs instead of making a quick sale. Click to tweet

  • Embrace the culture of immediacy with real-time service: 71% of consumers say that customer service provided on any day, at any time influences their loyalty. Click to tweet

To learn more about connected customers — their unique preferences, purchasing behaviors, and expectations of companies — and understand how your business can succeed in the age of the customer, download the full report.