Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Two-thirds of consumer and business buyers are likely to switch brands if they are treated as a number rather than an individual, a new report claims.
According to Salesforce’s latest State of Connected Customer report, 65 per cent of the more than 7000 consumers and business buyers surveyed globally say a personalised or exclusive offer is influencing their brand loyalty, and 75 per cent companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage with them, both across online and offline channels.
The findings in the report point to consumers wanting more intelligence communications from brands and more engagement-based interaction. For example, 63 per cent of millennial consumers agreed they’re willing to share data with companies that send personalised offers and discounts, and 58 per cent would share data to access product recommendations that match their needs. Generation X consumers were behind these numbers at 58 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.
In addition, more than three-quarters of all consumers said it’s absolutely critical or very important to work with a salesperson who is focused on achieving customer needs instead of making a quick sale.
On the business side, 74 per cent of buyers said sending personalised or exclusive offers and discounts have a major or moderate influence on their loyalty.
Customer service also has a major bearing on brand loyalty, and 71 per cent of consumers said customer service provided on any day at any time has an influence on their perception of a brand. Just over two-third (69 per cent) said the same about personalised customer care. In addition, 80 per cent of business buyers and 64 per cent of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real time.
Fifty-eight per cent of consumers agree technology has significantly changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them, and seven in 10 believe technology has made it easier than ever for them to take their business elsewhere. Interestingly, 51 per cent feel significantly more empowered as consumers than they did five years ago.
When it comes to the business side, 83 per cent of respondents said tech has kept their company more informed about product choices than ever before, and 82 per cent agree tech makes it easier than ever to take business elsewhere. More than three quarters also feel significantly more empowered as decision makers than five years ago, and 77 per cent said tech has changed their organisation’s expectations of how companies should be interacting with them.
It’s also clear digital conversations are making or breaking brands. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they’re more likely to purchase products that have positive online consumer ratings, 52 per cent agree social media has given them more power as consumers, and 43 per cent are using social to voice opinions about brands and products.
Commenting on the findings, Salesforce APAC head of product marketing, Derek Laney, said there’s no doubt the connected customer is the driving force of our age, demanding constant innovation, mobility and progressive disruption. As stated in the report, 57 per cent of respondents said it’s absolutely critical or very important for companies they purchase from to be innovative.
“They are demanding brands to deliver super-human levels of personalisation and accessibility while at the same time expecting brands to be more human and socially engaged,” Laney said.
“It’s no longer enough for customer experiences to be effortless. Increasingly, customers expect every touchpoint to be personalised and proactive. Marketers need to ask themselves: Is the organisation coming together to anticipate customer needs? Do they know the customer well enough to be able to anticipate their need? If not, it’s time to step-up their game.”
With more game-changing technologies now coming into the market, including artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, customer-focused technology will continue to have a profound impact on the way companies must approach sales, service and marketing, Laney continued.
“For businesses that are prepared to pivot and invest in humanising and personalising their customer interactions, there are more opportunities than ever before to differentiate and drive success,” he said.