Are marketing trends moving too fast? That’s a question many of us may ask with the rise of AI and other evolving technologies. On the other hand, some may be wondering why their business’s customer experience is diminishing as they lose sight of value and connection. Perhaps you’re moving too fast, trying to keep up with the pace of innovation — and fearing falling behind if you don’t.
In our annual State of the Connected Customer report, 81% of customers said they expect faster service as technology advances. So, where is the balance? How do we as marketers push the boundaries without sacrificing what matters most: the needs of our customers?
Let’s take a deeper look at the report’s finding through four guiding principles for marketers.
The research is in…
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1. Humanity: Customers want oversight over technology
You’ve probably heard a lot about AI by now — especially the questions about its potential impact. Our report found that 53% of customers say generative AI will help companies better serve them. However, only 37% of customers trust AI’s outputs to be as accurate as those of an employee.
As AI becomes more integrated into marketing strategies, human oversight is critical to making customer interactions feel meaningful and authentic. While AI can analyze customer data and automate certain interactions, our research shows 81% of customers want a human to be in the loop to review and validate those outputs. AI can be a helpful digital assistant, but it lacks the emotional intelligence, empathy, and intuitive understanding that human marketers bring to the table.
Human oversight ensures that AI-driven customer interactions are aligned with your brand’s voice, values, and customer expectations. While AI can generate responses based on data, humans can grasp the subtle nuances of customer inquiries and sentiments. And while AI can identify trends and patterns, it’s humans who can decipher the underlying reasons for shifts in customer behavior.
You can use this insight to make strategic adjustments, engaging with customers based on the newest information. This allows you to react on the fly in situations where predefined AI algorithms might fall short, ensuring that customer interactions feel natural.
As AI and other technologies evolve, this personal touch guides marketers to respond in ways that resonate with customers. This helps you foster deeper connections and build a trustworthy customer experience.
2. Agility: Customer experience must be able to shift with changing priorities
According to our survey, more than half of consumers (62%) have recently reassessed their priorities, forcing companies to shift their strategies with them. Whether it’s a sudden shift in consumer sentiment, a new competitor, or a technological glitch, you should be ready to adapt as customer expectations change.
This adaptability demonstrates a commitment to the customer experience by showing that the brand is listening and willing to evolve alongside them.
In essence, agility is the driving force that ensures marketing remains customer-focused and relevant.
3. Unification: Customers value consistency
Consumers’ number one frustration with organizations is disconnected experiences — feeling like they have to start over every time they talk with someone new. As technology diversifies the ways customers engage with brands, it’s important to make sure customers have a consistent experience, no matter how they engage with your company.
Our report found that a large majority (79%) of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. However, consistency across channels, devices, and departments is not the norm. Ultimately, poorly integrated technology and processes leave 55% of customers feeling like they generally engage with separate departments rather than one company working together.
Unification across channels ensures that customers receive a harmonious experience regardless of where and how they interact with your brand. In a world where customers demand transparency and authenticity, any disparity in the brand’s presentation, messaging, or service across different channels can erode trust.
Customers are more likely to feel a sense of familiarity and trust when they have a consistent experience, which means they’re more likely to come back. This extends beyond aesthetics and includes customer service interactions and responsiveness, engagement, and human touch — contributing to a seamless and positive customer experience.
4. Trustworthiness: Brands earn trust with honesty
Customers are becoming more aware of data privacy and security concerns. Businesses that prioritize safeguarding customer information and respecting their privacy are able to build trust.
Customers will engage and share information with brands — but they expect security measures, and transparency about data collection and usage in return. Our report found that nearly three-fourths of customers (71%) are more likely to trust a company with personal information if its use were clearly explained.
Trustworthiness is also a key factor in establishing emotional connections. As technology makes it easier to personalize marketing campaigns with automation, businesses must ensure that these efforts are aligned with their brand values and genuinely benefit the customer.
When customers feel that a brand has their best interests at heart and uses technology to make the customer experience better, they are more likely to engage in meaningful ways. Trust builds a sense of loyalty, as customers come to rely on a brand’s consistency and integrity.
Whether it’s evolving technologies, shifts in company direction, or reprioritization of customer needs, change is inevitable for marketers. But it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Determine what guides and grounds you, and move forward with confidence. Your customers will thank you for it.
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