The third edition of the State of the Connected Customer report from Salesforce Research considers how companies are being challenged to rethink their approach to customer engagement and meet the expectations of the connected customer.

Emerging technologies are transforming the standard of engagement, and companies are racing to foster the digitally savvy relationships that consumers and business buyers demand.

Take a look at the key points from the third edition of the State of the Connected Customer report to discover key customer engagement trends that emerged from the research.

 

Extraordinary experiences raise the bar for customer engagement

Customer experience is paramount, but companies aren’t living up to customers’ expectations. The majority of customers care about a quality experience as much as the products or services, and they’re willing to pay more for it. Additionally, companies that deliver an exceptional experience raise the bar for the rest, since customers expect the same standards from other companies.





 

Companies haven’t caught up, as few truly understand the customers’ needs and expectations. Over half of consumers say that companies are generally impersonal. With more and more customers expecting a tailored experience that values their satisfaction, how can companies deliver what the customer wants?

 

The ‘Amazon’ standard

As we noted, customers who have an exceptional experience with one company expect that from other companies. Amazon is a great example of a company that raises the bar in retail, banking, healthcare, hospitality, and several other industries in numerous ways.

Companies are expected to be available to their customers 24/7. Customers want to speak to a representative as soon as they have a problem, and they expect fast and inexpensive shipping. In fact, 59% of customers will take their business to Amazon if a company can’t match their shipping speed and cost.

Companies are also expected to be available anywhere. The modern customer’s journey is complex, non-linear, and fragmented across touchpoints. Roughly two-thirds of customers use multiple channels throughout the buying journey, such as beginning with an ad on social media then purchasing the product on the company’s website. If the company can’t provide these touchpoints across the customer’s preferred channels, 40% say they won’t do business with a company.

Effective customer engagement isn’t only personalised, timely, and omni-channel, but it’s also connected. This means that the customer’s preferences are recorded across touchpoints, so any necessary information can be accessed quickly and easily by the representatives they encounter.

 


 

Technology

Customer attitudes toward technologies are mixed. While many are excited by the capabilities and possibilities for emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and voice search, there’s a lot of concern about the ethical use of data and trust.

Still, consumers are aware of how these technologies can directly improve the customer experience, and 75% expect companies to leverage these technologies for the customer. In fact, 67% of customers say that the way a company uses technology is indicative of how it operates overall.

Though a small minority of customers are concerned about providing personal information to enhance their experience, the majority don’t trust companies to be transparent about how their data is being used. This could mean that many companies aren’t providing the confidence and security customers expect.

Nearly half of customers have stopped buying from companies because of privacy concerns. In a climate where trust has a notable influence on consumer engagement and, by extension, a company’s bottom line, it’s vital that these issues are addressed.

 

Ethics

Informed, modern customers place a lot of value on what a company stands for when choosing to do business with them.

 



 

As the research indicates, customers value companies that advocate for issues like equal rights, environmental sustainability; and philanthropy. Furthermore, 68% of customers say they won’t purchase from companies with poor ethics.

 

Winning the Customer Experience

Winning loyal customers has never been more challenging. In a time when offering exceptional products or services isn’t enough, companies have to go the extra mile to provide exceptional experience, data guardianship, trust, and a focus on customer satisfaction.