The connected consumer expectation gap continues to grow as more customers move online. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the modern business landscape and how we engage with customers remotely. Globally, social-distancing safety measures and mandatory quarantines are increasing the number of online purchases every day.

From the moment they start browsing to the point when they complete their purchase, savvy shoppers are now looking for five-star service – and expect nothing less. Yet despite the increasingly sophisticated branding and marketing tools currently available, a majority of the 8,000 consumers and business buyers who participated in the third edition of our State of the Connected Customer survey cited dissatisfaction with one or more aspects of their online experience.


Key findings from the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer

Over 50% of respondents feel that “companies are generally impersonal”. This will come as a wake-up call to retailers who have been striving to keep pace with the rapid advances in personalisation technology.

There has never been a more vital time to stay one step ahead of the competition, and companies that are complacent about their market share and take customer loyalty for granted risk being side-lined by their more proactive rivals.

Fortunately, thanks to our unique insights into the industry, Salesforce is fully prepared to help retailers meet these challenges head-on. Here is our handy guide to bridging the expectation gap and transforming those negative customer satisfaction statistics into glowing positives.


Expectation 1: Timing is everything

Whether indulging in a spot of casual browsing, making purchasing decisions based on product comparisons, following through a live transaction, or liaising with customer service over a problem, one thing emerged loud and clear from our survey: the importance of real-time communication.


The pace of modern life leaves little tolerance for time-wasting and instant gratification has become the goal of successful customer engagement. Companies that respond to consumers’ demands with timeliness and efficiency will be rewarded with repeat business and personal recommendations.


Expectation 2: The only way is omnichannel

Connected customers demand connected journeys. Reflecting today’s appetite for choice, 40% of respondents said they would only consider doing business with companies that offered an omnichannel facility. Retailers must be prepared to be available any time, any place, anywhere, via any channel – from online support to live chat, mobile apps to social media. 


The survey confirms that email remains the most popular method of communication, closely followed by in-person and phone, underscoring the high-value customers place on personal interactions as against automated responses.


Expectation 3: Personalisation is key

Omnichannel is only part of the story, of course: today’s switched-on consumers have also come to expect a fully integrated, tailored experience based on past interactions. However, with a typical online retail enterprise running around 900 different apps, managing this level of data integration can be challenging, especially for smaller enterprises with limited resources.


Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud is a simple-to-use unified marketing platform that allows you to get to know your customers, engage them, and personalise their digital shopping experience from start to finish.


Expectation 4: Innovation equals engagement

The best way to get your customers’ attention – and keep it – is by constantly surprising them! Innovation is your secret weapon in the overpopulated world of online retail – whether in the form of new products or new ways of engaging with past, present and future customers.


Existing technologies can be used to create more dynamic mobile apps or eye-catching tailored emails, while new technologies such as AI are opening the door to exciting new possibilities. Innovation is championed by 75% of survey respondents, who see technological advances as a benchmark for improving the overall retail experience.

For more insights from Salesforce’s illuminating survey, download the State of Connected Consumer report.