A unique report was recently released by Salesforce Research titled “State of the Connected Customer, 2nd edition”.
This is an important publication with insights from 6,700 consumers and business buyers on the intersection of customer experience, use of technology, and the creation and development of trust.
Uplifting Service is a long-term and satisfied customer of Salesforce. But it’s important to know that the 6,700 people interviewed for this report were not limited to Salesforce customers. They represent different customers, from different generations, different genders, different company sizes, different levels of education, and come from 19 countries representing every region of the world.
No matter where you are located or what your industry you are in, understanding these insights matters for your business and future success.
Salesforce Research summarized the key findings into four points:
1. Customer Expectations are Hitting All-Time Highs.
OK, no surprise here. With global competition and rapid commoditization in every sector, business and retail customers simply have more choice – and therefore much higher expectations of the companies they choose.
In fact, 76% of customers say it’s easier than ever before to take their business somewhere else.
This holds true in every geographic market, and for both B2B business customers, and for B2C retail consumers. With our clients, on our website, and in our blog we talk about this, using a service principle called The Six Levels of Service. This principle details how customer expectations are constantly rising, and how the challenge for every company is to keep adding value, keep improving, keep stepping up.
This fundamental principle must be understood and applied by everyone throughout the organization. Internal service teams and external customer facing teams working together in a culture where everyone is stepping up together.
2. Companies Face a New Connected Mandate
There are a lot of companies and a lot of customers, and a whole lot of commerce going on. But today’s customers want to be understood and respected as individuals. 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.
This can be a big challenge for teams inside your company who may be accustomed to only owning one stage of the customer journey. Customers judge companies based on their experience as a whole — not just interactions with individual departments — and they expect consistency in that experience.
With our clients, we use a very effective tool to help teams understand this called “Perception Point Maps”.
This tool, when applied by teams in a Service Excellence workshop, gets everyone on the same page about who we are serving, and how we can work together to deliver the consistency and quality of experience that our customers expect, and deserve.
3. Technology Sets New Benchmarks for Innovation
Innovation has become the standard. It is normal and expected for connected customers all over the world. In fact, 59% of customers say companies need cutting-edge digital experiences to keep their business.
Artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, virtual reality, augmented reality, cloud services, sensors, voice activated and automated interfaces. Customers want all of this to give them more, easier, faster, and better customer service when they shop, when they buy, when they use, and when they need support.
At Uplifting Service, we address this by taking our earlier idea of The Six Levels of Service and connecting it to the idea of the Four Categories of Value.
Now we can see the many ways that technology can add so much value to the customer experience.
For example, quickly selecting, improving, and customizing your Primary Products. Knowing what, and when, and where to use your Delivery Systems. Creating more value for customers with Delivery Systems that offer greater speed, flexibility, and convenience.
Providing a greater ease and comfort through the friendliness of your messages, the intuitive nature of your processes, and overall sense of customer confidence created by the Service Mindset demonstrated throughout their experience. And how technology can support the cultivation and continuation of your Ongoing Relationship with customers; by remembering them, reminding them, re-ordering for them, and usefully recommending new products and services to them.
67% of customers believe that good is going to come from your application of artificial intelligence, and 61% believe technology overall presents positive opportunities for society.
But, customer trust is a delicate thing; and a full 31% of customers say they are concerned about how companies will use new technologies. And this leads to insight #4.
4. Customers Balance Personalization and Privacy Amid a Crisis of Trust
Providing the experiences customers expect requires a new breed of technologies, and a thorough understanding of each customer’s unique needs and expectations. And that means collecting and analyzing data. Unfortunately, not all companies are earning customers’ trust with these technologies and all this accumulation of personal data.
But the Salesforce report reveals, that customers are actually OK with companies holding and using their personal information if that company uses the information to better meet their needs and higher expectations.
In every region, large majorities are willing to share personal information (or in the case of business buyers, professional information) in exchange for personalized offers, personalized shopping, and consistent cross-channel interactions.
This means that every member of your team, in every situation and at every point of contact, must Take Personal Responsibility for ensuring that customers’ data is gathered, analysed, used, and stored in ways that are ethical, truthful, and secure. This is not “some else’s job” in the organization. Ensuring data privacy and protection is everyone’s job.
So in this challenging time and world, what drives loyalty?
When great products and services alone are not enough to secure loyal customers, then companies must go further. Salesforce asked consumers and business buyers what has the greatest impact on their loyalty. And here are the top three:
First, the overall experience customers have with you at every stage of every service transaction.
Second, the success you help your customers achieve, and your investment in the relationship with them long after the deal is done.
And third, your careful protection and appreciation of the data they have entrusted you with to know them better and serve them better.
All of these insights, and more, are available for you to learn from in the Salesforce Research “State of the Connected Customer” report. You can get your own copy free, online, and I recommend you do.
When you understand the insights in this report more clearly, you will see that responding to these issues requires more than good technology and good intentions. You need a culture of responsible service throughout the organization to attract good customers, and keep good customers.
Fortunately, there are proven Global Best Practices for Building Service Culture that you can learn about, and apply. Visit the www.UpYourService.com website, where you can watch this presentation of this title on demand.
Learn more, and do more, so that and your team can succeed, today and tomorrow.
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Useful articles from the Salesforce Library:
● Customer service advice from 8 successful startups
● What award-winning customer service looks like
● 4 ways to create a happy customer service culture