Salesforce Study Shows Rising Customer Expectations

This is the year that control of the advertising industry has once and for all passed to the customer. Events from the last year like the launch of more personal digital assistants and the passage of GDPR have altered the industry forever, raising expectations and changing corporate norms. Back in the “Mad Men” era, it was common to tell consumers what they wanted. From now on, consumers are going to tell US. Consumers know we have their data, and now they’re demanding something in return — a more individualized buying experience.

The big elephants in the advertising room are artificial intelligence and the changing expectations of the connected consumer. Salesforce’s 2018 State of the Customer Experience points to exponentially rising customer expectations.

Tethered to their smartphones and accustomed to nonstop innovation, today’s consumers and business buyers are more informed and less loyal than their predecessors. In this era of exponentially disruptive technological change, often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, products and services that are cutting-edge one day are outdated the next. In this context, the experience a company offers is increasingly its differentiator. But the scope of customer experience is changing, too. To win hearts and wallets, companies must not only deliver amazing marketing, sales, ecommerce, and service interactions, but also prove that they have the customers’ best interests in mind.”

In other words, you have no room to let customers down. And you have to continually show them they can trust you or they won’t buy from you.95% of consumers say they only buy from companies they trust. This is going to be a big challenge for, say, the automotive industry, whose  new car dealership model is going to have to change from the old haggling with the finance director experience. Horsepower and beauty are no longer the selling points they once were.  Instead, sandwiches in the waiting room while your car is being serviced and a salesperson who will likely deliver a car directly to you like Tesla and Carvana do will be the norm.

And they want companies to know who they are as individuals. It’s almost as if customers were saying, “look I know you have my data, so why don’t you use it to engage with me as an individual rather than as a demographic segment.” 86% of customers are more likely to trust companies with their information if the company explains how that information is used to make a better customer experience.

Here’s something that surprised us: customers are no longer afraid of new technologies, Instead, 56% of them want to buy from the most innovative companies.

Even in B2B sales, buyers would like an Amazon-like experience. In fact, B2B sales are increasingly becoming “consumerized.”  However, only 27% of business buyers say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall experience, signaling ample room for improvement.  Business to business selling will have to change.