A whopping 69% of Canadians say their customer service experiences fall short of their expectations, and impressing them is not just a matter of solving their problems but clearly explaining how their data will be used to do so, based on findings from the second edition of the State Of The Connected Consumer report.

The research, which is based on survey responses from more than 6,700 customers around the world, suggests there is a “data-value exchange” companies need to keep top of mind as they seek to optimize the way they respond to questions or complaints from customers across a wide range of digital channels.

On a global level, for instance, 80% of consumers and business buyers say the experience a company provides is as important to them as the products and services it offers. Amid daily headlines about data breaches and questions about how organizations handle privacy, however, 57% also said they are uncomfortable with how their information is used. That means if customers agree to let a third party manage their data, they need to understand what kind of value they’ll get in return -- such as more personalized service.

Once companies get this balance right, they also need to demonstrate the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, as 70% said connected processes are key to winning their business. More than half, meanwhile, or 56%, said they actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies, which means service standards need to be particularly top-notch if you want customers to focus on your more disruptive qualities.

As with other Salesforce research, the global findings were broken down into local snapshots based on all the countries where people responded. Let’s look more closely at how Canadian customers are making the link between connectivity, customer service and their ongoing willingness to stay loyal to brands:
 

69% Of Canadians Have Switched To A Competitor Due To Service Issues
 

In most product and service categories, there’s no shortage of choices available to consumers or business buyers when they’re ready to make a purchase, and they are more active than ever in exercising their options. In fact, the overall breakdown of 69% is even higher in the consumer segment, where 72% said they had stopped buying from a company because a rival firm offered a better experience. Business buyers were close behind, however, at 63%.

Unless you have a lot of time and resources to gather competitive intelligence, however, the best recourse for most organizations will begin with getting a better understanding of what their current customer journey looks like. Tools like Service Cloud, for instance, not only make it easier for agents to manage cases in real-time, but provide deeper trend and pattern data. That means you can begin to analyze your strengths and weakness in terms of customer experience and deal with them before customers start switching.
 

44% Of Canadians Are Confused About How Companies Are Using Their Data
 

It’s pretty intuitive why organizations might want name and contact details, but some customers might wonder why they’re also collecting and storing purchase histories, previous service engagements and other details. They might worry they’re going to marketed or pitched products and services they don’t really want at all times of the day, among other concerns.

You can earn customers’ trust in the data-value exchange by covering the fundamentals, like having an easy-to-find privacy policy, but also by walking the talk with more personalized communications. Marketing Cloud becomes essential here, especially when you consider that Canadian business buyers say they use an average of 11 different channels to connect with their vendors, and consumers used as many as nine with their preferred brands. Personalization needs to not only consider the content of a message but the channel customers like best. Online portals topped the list for Canadians’ preferred channels at 45%, for example, but that was closely followed by mobile apps at 41%. Being omni-channel, in other words, plays a big role in personalizing experiences with connected consumers.

 

55% Of Canadians Are Open To Artificial Intelligence Improving The Customer Experience
 

You no longer have to be a computer scientist to grasp how artificial intelligence (AI) can help companies make better recommendations about products and services to buy, or to look up information through nothing more than a verbal command on your smartphone. In fact, 44% of Canadians said AI is already impacting their expectations from companies. As much as we might still equate “personal” service as only coming from human beings, using AI doesn’t mean a company is acting like a robot. In fact,

customers might be surprised or frustrated when more traditional or manual ways of working lead to increased wait times or errors.

It’s also worth pointing out that AI can be a boon in addressing another opportunity to build trust in the data-value exchange: self service. Customers will probably be willing to give over more of their information if they also have a more direct role in how they control its collection and use. This could include tools, which often use AI to provide a more empowering customer experience. Salesforce Einstein, for instance, feeds into everything from internal tools like Sales Cloud to chatbots that let customers do their own troubleshooting and answer their own questions. Because AI gets smarter the longer it is used, customer expectations based on such technologies will only increase over time.

Using AI might also position early adopters as more innovative, which speaks to the 55% of Canadians who said companies need to offer “cutting edge” experiences to keep their business.

There is a lot more Canada-specific data in the research, along with comprehensive global details about ways to balance personalization amid a crisis of trust. Download the complete second edition of The State Of The Connected Customer report from Salesforce today and begin your own journey to master the data-value exchange.