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Voice of the Customer

Salesforce has released the third edition of its State of the Connected Customer report which reveals that companies are being challenged to rethink not just the individual experiences they provide customers, but their entire approach to customer engagement.

At the same time, the research shows that corporate values have become more relevant than ever and factor into customers’ decisions of whether or not to buy from a company.

The global report captures insights from over 8,000 consumers and business buyers across 16 countries, including over 500 from the UK and Ireland, to help companies transform how they drive customer success.

Customers expect connected, multi-channel experiences

The Salesforce report determines that customers’ standards for engagement are different today. Customers expect timely and connected experiences where their preferences are known across multiple touchpoints and can be quickly accessed. In the UK and Ireland, 60% of customers expect connected experiences that raise the bar for engagement, and 69% of customers expect companies to interact with them in real time.

Brand values sway customers’ buying decisions

New this year, the research found that corporate values are swaying customers’ buying decisions. Customers expect companies to not only operate ethically and with their communities’ interests at heart, but in a way that advances causes that they care about such as equal rights, philanthropy and sustainability. In the UK and Ireland, 65% of customers believe a company’s ethics matter more than they did a year ago, and 51% actively seek to buy from environmentally sustainable companies. Customers also want to know a company’s stance on equal rights, and many are actively seeking to buy from companies that give back.

Trust is more relevant than ever

Trust has always been valuable in customer relationships, but in an era marked by data security vulnerabilities, a lot goes into fostering customer trust. The Salesforce report revealed that 46% of customers in the UK and Ireland have stopped buying from a company that did something distrustful, and 59% believe that most companies aren’t transparent about how they use their data. Globally, customers feel that honesty is the best policy for earning customer trust, and while security and reliability serve as baseline indicators of trustworthiness, other factors such as transparency, ethics and authenticity come in striking distance.

Customers’ expectations are driving innovation, digital transformation

Innovation can come through new products or new ways of engaging customers. Whatever the form factor, the bar for innovation is higher than ever, with 60% of customers in the UK and Ireland expecting companies to use new technologies to create better experiences. Digital transformation initiatives like artificial intelligence, voice technology and connected devices are having more impact on the customer experience. 80% of Gen Xers in the UK and Ireland are using connected devices, and 37% are open to using artificial intelligence to improve their experiences.

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