December 19, 2019

Top Insights of 2019: What We Learned from Global Research

By Conor Donegan, Sr. Manager, Salesforce Research

 

If you know Salesforce, you’ll know that we put a big focus on the value of learning. One of the ways we keep learning is to keep asking questions — which we do through global studies of the markets we serve — then analyzing and sharing our findings. 

In 2019, our research team surveyed more than 33,000 individuals worldwide. We posed questions to a wide range of roles — consumers, IT leaders, small business owners, you name it. In reflecting back on the year, we wanted to recap what we learned.

Here are our top insights from the year based on our 2019 research. [Click to Tweet]

 

One extraordinary experience raises the bar for all companies. 

A survey of 8,000 consumers and business buyers revealed just how much customer experience matters. In fact, 73% say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies. Free shipping, a hand-written holiday card, a smooth online chat with a service agent — all of the things that step-up the customer experience are a slippery slope; once customers have a great experience, a good one no longer passes muster, regardless of whether its from a direct competitor or an entirely different industry.

 

 

Customers expect companies to step up their technology game. 

A modern digital experience has officially crossed over from “nice to have” to “must have.” Seventy-five percent of customers expect companies to use new technologies — like voice interfaces – to create better experiences. But 74% have the same expectations for existing technology, too. In other words, it’s not just about having the latest and greatest tech, but about bringing technologies together for an intelligent, personalized experience. To borrow from Patrick Stokes, Salesforce Executive Vice President of Platform Shared Services, when you have a 360-degree view of the customer, you have the foundation for creating amazing customer experiences and building trusted relationships.

Consumers see a higher calling for businesses. 

Society as we know it is at a critical inflection point on issues of equality, trust, and sustainability. In this changing atmosphere, many eyes are turning toward businesses to serve a variety of stakeholders that includes, but not solely, their shareholders. Ninety percent of consumers say that companies have a responsibility to improve the state of the world; 93% say they have a responsibility to look beyond profit to positively impact society.

 

 

As customer service technology gets more advanced, so does the service agent. 
Customer service isn’t synonymous with back office call centers. Increasingly, service leaders are ingraining their work across the full customer lifecycle, embracing chatbots, self-service, and digital channels, and investing in field service capabilities that bring agents to the customers. Customer service work is increasingly complex — 71% of agents say their work is more strategic than two years ago — and their management ranks improved workforce skills as the number-one priority.

IT leaders are challenged to ingrain AI in their businesses. 
Artificial intelligence (AI) is unleashing new standards of engagement, business processes, and innovation. Sixty-four percent of IT leaders are actively looking for ways to use AI, and its adoption in enterprises is forecast to soar by 95% within two years. Yet while IT leaders know AI will be increasingly critical in their operations, execution is difficult: Only 7% of them have a completely defined AI strategy, and only 10% have advanced skills on staff.

 

A new generation is changing the face of entrepreneurship.
Being one’s own boss has long been the primary motivator for starting a business, but millennial and Gen Z entrepreneurs are nearly three times more likely than their elders to start a side hustle on top of their regular jobs, or to have left a hostile work environment in favor of following their passions.

 

For more Salesforce Research insights, including a complete list of reports from 2019, visit Salesforce.com/research.